Fine Gael TD for Donegal, Joe McHugh, has expressed his support for the West Ulster Rail Initiative, which was launched today in Letterkenny, saying he hopes private operators may one day provide services in Donegal.
“The West Ulster Rail Initiative is a significant step forward in the campaign to re-establish rail connectivity in the northwest region. It makes sense for Donegal, Derry, Monaghan, Tyrone, Cavan and Fermanagh to come together to promote railway development in our region, both in the Republic of Ireland and in the North,” he said.
“The disused pre-Independence rail lines that criss-cross this province provide the foundations for substantial cross-border rail infrastructure. It is significant that the Northern Ireland Executive has this year published ‘The Future Railway Investment Consultation Paper’, which projects extensions of the Northern Ireland Rail Network across the Border into the Republic of Ireland.
“The 2014 European Parliament elections are an important opportunity for progressing rail development in the northwest. I encourage the people of the region to make rail connectivity an election issue for the 2014 European elections. Enormous credit is due to people like Canon David Crooks of Carrigans who aims high in consistently promoting the rail agenda in Donegal. All citizens of the north-west should similarly aim high in asking European Parliament candidates to commit to the West Ulster Rail Initiative, and to pledge to work in the European Parliament for political agreement and financial resourcing for cross-border rail development.
“I encourage the West Ulster Rail Initiative to be ambitious in engaging with private rail companies from across Europe who may see an opportunity for investment in rail infrastructure in our region. Capital costs associated with rail development are obviously very substantial; a partnership approach between Government and private enterprise may be the best way forward.”