New hourly rail link between Belfast and Londonderry welcomed

The train passing Downhill, in Co Londonderry on the journey between Belfast and Londonderry. Paul Faith/PA Wire
The train passing Downhill, in Co Londonderry on the journey between Belfast and Londonderry. Paul Faith/PA Wire

A new hourly train service between Londonderry and Belfast has been welcomed as “good news for shoppers, tourists, retailers and the local economy”.

The first train left Londonderry shortly after 6am today. The new timetable has come into effect after millions of pounds worth of investment on new infrastructure on the line between Londonderry and Coleraine.

Glyn Roberts is Chief Executive of Retail NI, a body who represent independent retailers. He gave the new service a warm welcome, saying: “This enhanced service is good news for shoppers, tourists, retailers and the local economy as a whole. Enhancing our regional transport infrastructure is a vital economic priority for Northern Ireland.”

He added: “Improved connectivity between our two main cities is crucial, not just for the North-West but for the region as a whole”

“We would strongly encourage shoppers to leave the car at home and try this new rail service.”

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan also welcomed the new service but said more investment was needed in transport infrastructure in the North West region.

The SDLP man, speaking after a visit to the railway station in the Waterside area of Londonderry, said: “I was pleased to visit the Railway Station here in Derry today and congratulate staff on the new hourly service. It was fantastic to see the station buzzing with happy passengers, many of which expressed their delight at the long needed more frequent service.

“While, I recognise the fact that this service will make travel more convenient for passengers, particularly commuters between the two cities. It is only the first step in the right direction.”

He continued: “In order to deliver for Derry we need to execute a much more ambitious plan for our infrastructure and that includes our railway. The next step must be to bring forward plans for a new station, one that is fit for purpose and one that delivers faster, more attractive travel options for people in the North West.”

Mr Durkan added: “I congratulate all involved in delivering this new service and encourage them to keep going. We can work together to deliver a service fit for a modern city. The SDLP will continue to push the need for all political parties to prioritise investment for infrastructure in the North West. We now need others to show political will to get this over the line and off the shelf.”