It is understood both Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and the Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon MLA are keen to see the project advanced.
In November last year, the council’s economic development and regeneration committee agreed to share the findings of a scoping study on the viability of a railway line connecting Armagh and Portadown with the Department for Infrastructure.
Speaking at January’s meeting of ABC council, Alderman Jim Speers enquired about the progress of this discussions and asked for an update on the project.
Council’s strategic director of place Olga Murtagh informed members that discussions with the Department on the matter are due to take place later this week.
Ms Murtagh also confirmed members of the council’s economic development and regeneration committee will be updated on the outcome of these discussions when the committee next meets on Tuesday, February 9.
“A meeting is set to take place between council officers and the Department this Friday [January 29],” confirmed Ms Murtagh.
“Following this, an updated report on the project will be complied and presented to members ahead of February’s meeting of the economic development and regeneration committee.”
It is estimated the the project’s feasibility study could exceed £100,000 in costs while the capital cost associated with the project is likely to exceed £100 million.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service last year, the Infrastructure Minister confirmed she is keen to seen a feasibility study for the proposed rail link completed and would be prepared for her Department to provide the vast majority of the funding for it.
” My priority as Minister is to work on transport infrastructure that improves people’s lives, connects communities and tackles the climate emergency, prioritising active and sustainable transport options,” said Minister Mallon.
“I believe that rail has huge untapped potential to deliver multiple benefits across our island.
“Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has undertaken a high level scoping study which I understand considers what might be included in a future feasibility study.
“I would like to see this further developed and the feasibility study undertaken.”
The Minister continued: “I have therefore asked my officials to pursue this with the Council and they are seeking confirmation that the council wish to progress this to the next stage and would procure and manage the development of the feasibility study.
“The funding for the council’s feasibility study would largely be provided by my Department with council providing only a part share.”