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Campaign to reopen Armagh to Portadown rail link set to intensify

Portadown to Armagh Railway Society invite public to attend AGM

A campaign to reopen the Armagh to Portadown rail line is set to intensify in the coming months.

And tonight (Tuesday), the Portadown and Armagh Railway Society will hold its annual general meeting in the city with efforts to focus on the way ahead.

PARS is encouraging people to continue to put pressure on Stormont, especially at this time.

PARS was set up to advance the education of the public in the history and development of railways in the Portadown and Armagh area, bringing together people in the Portadown and Armagh area to examine and learn the history of the railway service to the area and the story of those who worked on the railway, travelled by rail and much more.

The group – together with the former Armagh City and District Council – has already been instrumental in establishing a monument on The Mall to commemorate the 89 people who lost their lives in the 1889 Armagh Railway Disaster.

And PARS is continuing in working tirelessly to encourage local people to lobby their elected representatives to bring to the fore the reinstatement of the line from Portadown to Armagh and beyond.

Daphne Weir, Chairperson of the PARS group, told Armagh I that the fact that the city, which continues to market itself on tourism, hasn’t got a rail link is beyond ridiculous.

She said: “Armagh is an important cathedral city without a railway; one of a minority of cities in this predicament. Think of the tourist economy and the finance a railway would create for local businesses which have been deprived of trade by the closure of the railway in 1957.

“Receipts for Northern Ireland Railways are increasing annually, lines are being upgraded and new rolling stock purchased but all for use in the north and east of Northern Ireland. Do we in the south-west not matter? We certainly need a rail link.

“Buses do not provide a flexible service especially for wheelchair users and other people with physical disabilities for whom boarding some buses is impossible; they have to avail of taxis and adapted cars to get to Portadown Railway Station. This makes life intolerable for those with hospital appointments in Belfast.

“For commuters from the Armagh area, driving to Portadown in becoming much more difficult as car parking in Portadown is very limited.

“As for the social aspect, we in Armagh cannot enjoy evenings in such venues as the Titanic Quarter and Waterfront Hall because we cannot get back to Armagh in the evenings by public transport. We can travel from Belfast to Portadown by train and either walk to Armagh or pay for a taxi making it an expense too far.  Similarly people from Belfast cannot afford evenings out in Armagh.

“The fare payers have been forgotten for too long. Other parts of the United Kingdom are re-opening branch lines which are being well supported. Examples include a new track from Edinburgh to TweedBank and one in Wales.  People in Fermanagh and the far west would also like a rail link.”

To learn more about what PARS is up to and to lend your support, come along to Woodford Hall, Ardmore Drive, Armagh, BT60 1JD, tonight (Tuesday), March 21.

The AGM – which also include the chance to view old railway films – gets underway at 8pm and all are welcome to attend.

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