Campaigners have released a video to highlight the anniversary of the shutdown of the last Donegal railway, on St Valentine’s Day 1965.
Rail campaigners, Into The West, issued the ‘St Valentine’s Shutdown’ film today.
That closure stripped both Tyrone and Donegal of rail and erased the north-west’s direct rail link with Dublin.
Up until that St Valentine’s Day shutdown, the line between Derry and
Portadown ran through the border region of north-east Donegal – with stops at Carrigans, St Johnston, Carrickmore, Porthall and Lifford – before crossing the border again into Tyrone. It was the last bit of Donegal’s rail network to survive previous cuts in the 1950s.
Into The West is campaigning to have a rail route between Letterkenny, Lifford and Derry reopened as part of their North West Rail Corridor proposal.
This could see a restored spine of rail from Letterkenny through Derry, Strabane/Lifford, Omagh and Dungannon to Portadown, from where trains would travel directly on south to Dublin or north to Belfast.
Once reopened, the corridor would return rail to Donegal and Tyrone for the first time in 60 years, restore a direct rail link between Dublin and the north-west, and help to close the huge gap in the island’s rail network.
In addition, it would also provide the foundation stone for three further rail reopenings in the future – one of which is to extend the proposed Western Rail Corridor north from Sligo through Ballyshannon and Ballybofey to Letterkenny.
Chair of Into The West, Steve Bradley, said February 14th is usually about love, but on Valentine’s Day 1965 the North-west of Ireland was subjected to a brutal divorce.
“A key railway route through the entire area was shut down unnecessarily – stripping the last bits of rail from counties Donegal and Tyrone, and leaving Derry City isolated on the rail network,” he said.
“Our latest video reminds people of that St. Valentine’s Day shutdown, and that such a poor decision for this region can and should be reversed today.”
Mr Bradley encouraged readers to help spread that message by sharing the video, and ask anyone who wants to see the North West Rail Corridor restored to sign
the petition on their website.
“Let’s make 2023 the year that the decision is made to put Letterkenny, Donegal and the north-west of the island back on the rail map again”.
The videos can be watched on Into The West’s website (www.IntoTheWest.org) as well as on its YouTube channel ( Into The West – YouTube ). Their petition calling for the restoration of the North West Rail Corridor can be read and signed here.