Hourly trains to Belfast will be possible but not necessarily affordable

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This time next year the rail network will finally be able to handle an hourly train service between Londonderry and Belfast but there’s no guarantee one will be laid on.

Rail Minister Michelle McIlveen says it depends how much money is available for funding public transport.

East Londonderry MLA John Dallat raised the matter as the second phase of the Londonderry to Coleraine rail upgrade is due to be completed by the end of this calendar year.

The opening of a passing loop at Bellarena, will enable hourly services if the money and demand is there to run them.

Ms McIlveen confirmed: “Translink has advised me that the rail network capability will exist to operate hourly services from early 2017. The financial implications associated with increasing the frequency to an hourly service from Belfast to Londonderry will have to be considered in the context of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) provision and the next Comprehensive Spending Review.”