everywhere else is getting investment in rail

British Railways

So the British railways* are to get investment of £8bn by the Coalition Government. Will there be further investment in the railway in Northern Ireland? Probably not.

Hopefully, the Northern Ireland block grant will get some money given to it using the Barnett formula, but I suppose it will be up to us to lobby Conor Murphy MP MLA, of Sinn Féin, the Minister for Regional Development to get him to lobby the DUP‘s Sammy Wilson MP MLA, our Finance Minister, to allow the Northern Ireland Executive to invest in Northern Ireland Railways.

The Department for Regional Development’s own website states that

The renewal of the track between Coleraine and [Londond]erry is due to commence in 2012/13 subject to funding availability.

Let’s hope that whatever is the Northern Ireland’s allowance using Barnett will be used to ensure that the necessary works here are carried out.

But we shouldn’t stop at just maintaining what we have.

Iarnród Éireann†

South of the Border, Córas Iompair Éireann has plans for a new DART Underground

linking the Docklands to Inchicore via Dublin city centre. However, in recent days Iarnród Éireann now appreciates that

given the current economic situation, the Government requires to reduce capital spending on Transport and other areas.

In relation to DART Underground, while the tunnelling element will not proceed in the immediate period, we welcome the commitment to delivering resignalling and other associated works on the existing DART and Commuter routes. These works will of themselves yield significant benefits to commuters, by delivering capacity for a higher frequency of trains on all lines.

The Railway Order hearing for the core DART Underground tunnelling project is underway, and this will continue. This will ensure that, subject to An Bord Pleanála’s approval, we will be in a position to proceed with DART Underground as quickly as possible when the Exchequer funding environment improves, as part of a PPP, and deliver a project which will generate significant economic return for the Exchequer, and transform the Greater Dublin area’s rail network.

Whilst the economic situation has meant that the radical and ambitious DART Underground has had to be shelved until economic situations are better, it is significant that they are at least thinking of new rail lines.

Perhaps Translink is actually thinking of reopening a station near the Odyssey complex in Belfast, to be called Queen’s Quay Rail Station. After all, there is a nice new sign at the Ann Street Subway to show how to get there…

Photo © 2010 Michael Carchrie Campbell

* not to be confused with the former British Railways which existed before privatisation under the last Conservative administration.
† Irish Railways

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