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Plans to re-instate Armagh to Portadown rail link to take another step forward

Armagh Portadown Rail Link

Plans to reinstate a railway link between Portadown and Armagh could take another step forward at a meeting of the Council’s regeneration committee tonight (Tuesday).

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council officials have recommended for the introduction of a dedicated task force in a bid to successfully acquiring funding towards a feasibility study into the multi-million project.

Councillors will vote on the recommendation, but it is unlikely to meet much – if any – resistance given the desire by many within the chamber to see the re-introduction of trains to Armagh.

The group will be expected to liaise closely with the Department of Infrastructure given that transport provision is a devolved matter and railway operation lies with Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company.

In addition there has been an effective lobby from special interest groups who are keen to preserve the industrial heritage linked with railway provision.

But the re-introduction of trains to Armagh has long been on the agenda for the Portadown and Armagh Railway Society (PARS), who have campaigned for years for the re-opening of the 10 miles of track, which were closed in 1957.

In 2014, a petition of around 10,000 signatures was delivered to Stormont, demanding such action.

And back in April, a motion calling for the provision of a feasibility study was tabled by Ulster Unionist councillors, which eventually gained cross-party support, following a number of slight amendments, most notably costs and funding opportunities outside of ratepayers footing the bill.

Tonight will be latest step in a potentially long and arduous road ahead for these ambitious plans.

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