Dungannon could finally get its railway line back

The goods train which ran between Dungannon and Cookstown, pictured in 1958
The goods train which ran between Dungannon and Cookstown, pictured in 1958

DUNGANNON could be in line for one of the most significant transport developments in its history after the Transport Minister said he is “keen” to explore funding possibilities for a railway from the town.

Danny Kennedy outlined his vision for the future of railway investment over the next 20 years and beyond for the Mid-Ulster area, which could potentially see railway links from Dungannon and Armagh to Portadown.

The Railway Investment Prioritisation Strategy published by the Minister signals the potential for the first major extensions to the railway network in Northern Ireland since the closing of lines in the sixties.

The Minister’s announcement follows a public consultation inviting views on the future priorities for investment in the railways network.

This attracted a wide variety of informed responses which the Minister developed into the Strategy which sets out his strategic direction and priority areas for future railways investment.

Minister Kennedy said: “This ambitious Strategy allows for a significant enhancement of existing rail capacity, preparation for the future electrification of the network and the first major extensions to the railway since the closing of lines following the Benson Report in 1963.

“I am particularly keen to extend the option of rail travel to commuters from Mid-Ulster and to the populations in the south and west within the catchments of Armagh and Dungannon. Although the speed of progress will depend on the amount of funding that can be made available from the Executive’s budget and, where possible, from the European Programmes, I am committed to exploring all funding opportunities and making this happen.”

In looking at possible network extensions the Minister said: “Projects that will be considered include the enhancement of the Northern Line between Bleach Green and Antrim. Other feasibility studies into longer term will propose extensions along the A6 corridor between Antrim and Castledawson; along the M1/A4 and the A3/A29 corridors towards Dungannon/Armagh; and a route to serve Belfast International Airport.

“I believe rail travel offers a safe, comfortable and efficient option, particularly for commuters and inter-city passengers. As and when additional resources become available, we must be ready to develop our rail network and this Strategy sets out how we can make that happen.”