The North’s railways minister Danny Kennedy, of the Ulster Unionists, told the Assembly in Belfast that the Irish government had rejected a Derry-Letterkenny rail link as well as the possibility of one from Derry to Lifford/Strabane.
But he told DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt that the government in the North was open to getting involved in the future.
The Irish Government’s ‘2030 Rail Network Strategy Review’ rejected both suggestions, saying feasibility studies said they wouldn’t work economically.
Mr Kennedy said he had not discussed the matter with the Dublin administration although during the development of the Northern Railways Corridor Study his officials had met with members of Donegal County Council to explore the possibility.
He stated: “It was noted that progress of a feasibility study would require the agreement of the Irish Government.
“Since then, Irish Rail has published its ‘2030 Rail Network Strategy Review.’
“This report carried out a preliminary appraisal of proposals for rail links between Londonderry and Letterkenny and between Londonderry and Strabane/Lifford.
“Neither proposal performed sufficiently well in the appraisal to be considered further. I understand that, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is not prepared to support a further feasibility study at this time.”
But Mr Kennedy said he was open to the suggestion of a future rail link.
He told the Assembly: “If, in the longer term, proposals come forward from the Irish authorities for a rail connection between Londonderry and Donegal, these could be considered further in the forthcoming investment prioritisation framework to be established under the new approach to Regional Transportation Strategy.”
Campaigners in the county have insisted a rail link through Donegal and connecting Derry and Sligo would have enormous economic benefits for the county.
But successive governments have instead invested in roads.