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Rail boost for Lurgan, Portadown and Newry with hourly services between Belfast and Dublin

Portadown Train Station

A huge multi-million pound investment by the Irish government will see an hourly rail service introduced between Dublin and Belfast.

And the €12.5m funding package will be a major boost for commuters in Co Armagh with Newry and Portadown stations set to benefit.

It’s part of a much more substantial investment worth €800m (£685m) for cross-border projects, which also includes €600m for the upgrade of the A5 and €50 million for the redevelopment of Casement Park in west Belfast.

Money has also been allocated to existing projects such as the Narrow Water Bridge in Warrenpoint and there is also a commitment to work with the Astronomical Observatories of Ireland’s three sites at Dunsink, Armagh and Birr.

SDLP All-Island Rail Spokesperson, councillor Pete Byrne, welcomed the investment for the Dublin-Belfast railway line.

Councillor Byrne said: “This improved railway service will make a massive difference not only to people living in Belfast and Dublin, but to everyone living along this line in Newry, Portadown and Dundalk.

“Thousands of people every week rely on these services for commuting and improving their regularity will open up opportunities for people living on both sides of the border to live and work in these towns and cities with improved transport links.

“Bringing our island closer together through public transport benefits everyone. It not only creates opportunities for jobs and investment, but also protects the environment by enabling more people to choose greener methods of transport. It will also support businesses in these areas.

“The SDLP has been at the forefront of advocating for improved all-island transport, co-commissioning the All Island Rail Review while in government.

“Today’s announcement is an important step in providing improved transport links, but we still have some way to go to seeing our vision of a fully connected island realised and we will keep pressing for progress in that area in the near future.”

Read more: Technical study states re-opening Portadown to Armagh railway line ‘feasible and deliverable’

SDLP Newry councillor Killian Feehan added: “I am currently engaging with people on this area on ways that we can improve the rail offering in Newry and in that context this upgrade is particularly welcome. If we want people to regularly use public transport then we need to ensure that it is reliable, affordable and meets the needs of modern life.

“The SDLP will be seeking reassurances that any new services include stops in Newry, given the large number of people who commute from the city to both Belfast and Dublin. We will continue to work with the wider community to craft a public transport system that serves the needs of people living in this area.”

Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan – the party’s transport spokesperson – described it as “fantastic news”.

“Sinn Féin have consistently called for improved connections between Ireland’s two main cities to support the growing needs of business, retail and tourism,” he added.

“This will create greater access for jobs and opportunities, help to tackle the climate emergency and will provide a boost to the thriving all-island economy.

“We must continue to invest in our rail network and improve connectivity across the island.”

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