Mid Ulster District Council’s vice chair has told the local authority that now is the time to make a “rail push” if it wants to see a train network return to the west of the province.
Speaking at the monthly meeting, Councillor Frances Burton told the chamber the people of the west deserve “better connectivity and transport options” in this day and age.
Reflecting on a presentation given to the development committee earlier in the month by the ‘Into the West’ lobby group, the Clogher Valley representative said she felt it was a really positive presentation and called on the council to help support its aim to restore the Derry-Portadown rail line.
“I hope we can take a serious look to try and ensure people living in the west have better connectivity and transport which should include rail,” said Councillor Burton.
“The Into the West group made a really positive presentation and I would like this council to offer any support they can.
“I have also been in touch with NILGA (Northern Ireland Local Government Association) as I believe there is support for rail right across Northern Ireland.
“Everyone here will know that ABC council is really pushing to try and get the railway extended from Portadown to Armagh and I really think we should be doing what we can as well for Mid Ulster.
“There is a layout that I hope can be followed and with the recent consultation that both council and NILGA fed into, I really think it is time we really push for this for this in our area as well.”
Mid Ulster District Council’s chair, Councillor Cora Corry said she “would completely agree” with Councillor Burton’s comments and expressed her hope that council would throw its weight behind the campaign to see rail services restored in the west.
Chief executive Adrian McCreesh confirmed his senior management team are “totally wedded” to the campaign.
“It is also in our corporate plan, our community plan and is front and centre of the Mid South West growth deal,” he said.
“The growth deal members here have discussed it with our colleagues in Fermanagh and Omagh and ABC as well. In the growth deal ABC are taking the lead but we have agreed it must extend the length and breadth of the Mid South West region.
“That includes what we feel is a bit of a gap between Dungannon, Cookstown, Magherafelt and along the A29. There are lots of opportunities and be assured that as an officer team we are going to be pushing for it as loud as we can.”