A Donegal County Councillor has expressed his ambitions to develop a rail link for the North West.
Sinn Féin Cllr Gary Doherty is leading a call on the new Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Stormont’s Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon to explore the feasibility of restoring the rail service in Donegal.
“There can be no limit to our ambition as a county, and I believe now is as good a time as any to try and advance this project,” Cllr Doherty said.
Cllr Doherty has called for a study to be carried out and for preferred route options to be identified.
He said the development of a rail-line connecting Donegal and Derry to the Dublin and Belfast lines could have a transformative effect on Donegal.
“It would instantly provide an extra layer of connectivity to make us ever more attractive to inward investment. Our workforce in Donegal is skilled and educated. Our selling points can only be bolstered by the addition of a rail-link allowing for ease of access to the main airports and ports.
“In addition, the major problems facing the property market in Dublin and the commuter belt are already meaning some are looking to places like Donegal to relocate. Rail access makes this an even more inviting prospect.”
Cllr Doherty said rail links would also benefit the economy and contribute to lower carbon emissions:
“Our economy would also be bolstered by an increase in tourism from the east coast, as our outstanding natural beauty would be accessible more easily from the most populous region of our island.
“In an era where reducing our carbon footprint is essential for the future of our planet, we must be looking at ambitious plans like this which will increase passenger numbers on public transport, and take cars off our roads.”
Commenting in January 2020, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan told Donegal Daily that he envisaged rail links being reintroduced to Donegal as early as 2040.
Cllr Gary Doherty said rail ambitions should not detract from the A5 and A6 road projects and local road development.
He said: “There is no question that huge investment is needed to secure a rail link for the northwest. But as a joint exercise between the two jurisdictions on this island this project has the potential to help in redressing the years of under investment in the northwest region, and addressing the economic imbalances which exist on this island.
“In line with the development of a rail link, it is vitally important that our road networks are upgraded also, given the geographic proximity of the County. Much work has been done on the A6, and it is of utmost importance that the new A5 project which has long been touted and advocated for is advanced, but they should not be the limits of our ambition.”
It was agreed at yesterday’s meeting of Donegal County Council that the Local Authority would write to the Transport Ministers and request the feasibility study and identification of preferred route options.