RAIL campaigners ‘Into The West’ are calling on everyone who wants to see rail return to Tyrone to participate in a public consultation for the new All-Ireland Rail Strategy.
The All-Ireland Rail Review Strategy is a north-south initiative launched earlier last year by NI Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Republic of Ireland Transport Minister Eamon Ryan.
The review will consider how and where rail should be improved on the island, to boost sustainable connectivity and address regional imbalance - with a specific focus on the north-west of the island, where rail is largely absent.
The review process has now reached the consultation stage, with members of the public being asked to submit their thoughts on how to improve rail.
Lobby group Into The West campaigns for better rail in counties Tyrone, Londonderry, Fermanagh and Donegal, and sees the All-Ireland Review as a big opportunity for Tyrone.
It is urging people in the county to take part in the consultation, and has created a list of seven key improvements for people to request when doing so.
Chairman of Into The West, Steve Bradley, commented “The All-Ireland Rail Review is an important project - looking for the first time at rail and required improvements across the island as a whole.
"We’ve all seen the map of the rail network in Ireland with that massive gap in the North-West corner and people are increasingly unwilling to accept that situation any more.
"The strategy that comes out of this All-Ireland Review will hopefully identify ways that gap should be addressed.
"Into The West has identified seven key projects across the west of Northern Ireland that would close the gap and transform infrastructure in Tyrone.
"However - there will be a lot of voices calling for improved rail in other parts of the island too.
"That’s why it’s essential for as many people as possible in Tyrone to have their say."
He continued: "We want this to be the largest public consultation ever held on the island, leaving Stormont and Dublin in no doubt that the public demands better rail.
"And, we want Tyrone and the west to comprise the largest number of responses, as otherwise there is a danger that other places which shout louder could become the priority."
The seven key improvements Into The West are suggesting people ask for when responding to the consultation are:
1: Reopen the Londonderry-Portadown rail line, through Tyrone (via towns like Strabane, Sion Mills, Newtownstewart, Omagh, and Dungannon).
2: Reconnect Enniskillen to the rail network. (Both north to Omagh and south to Sligo).
3: Connect NI’s three airports to the rail network
4: Faster and more frequent trains between Londonderry and Belfast (Including departures every half hour, and a 90min express service).
5: Reopen the Londonderry-Letterkenny rail route.
6: Reconnect Limavady to the rail network.
7: Complete the Limerick to Sligo ‘Western Rail Corridor’ (and continue it on north through Donegal to Londonderry)
Steve concluded : “The deadline for responses to the consultation is January 21, 2022 but please don’t leave it until then to take part. It’s essential that as many people as possible contribute to ensure there is a strong voice demanding the return of rail to Tyrone. So please take a few minutes to complete the online consultation today.
"And, please ensure you request the seven improvements outlined above in your response”.
Information on the All-Ireland Rail Review and a link to the online public consultation, can be found at:
The deadline for responses is Friday, January 21, 2022.