The West Ulster Rail Initiative held a meeting recently in the Johnston Railway Museum in Darling Street, Enniskillen to decide effective ways of securing Ireland’s share of equal funding from the EU’s various rail connectivity programmes.
The lobby group that is pushing for a return of the railways to Fermanagh and Donegal have called on governments and politicians to support the initiative.
The estimated cost – £638m to reconnect the Enniskillen to Portadown link and on to Belfast and Dublin – would seem prohibitive but, according to Enniskillen-born railway historian, Alan Devers, if the political will is there, the scheme is do-able.
He was unable to attend the meeting in Enniskillen organised by the West Ulster Rail Initiative in Enniskillen, but elected representatives from north and south were present.
It was held to decide effective ways of securing Ireland’s share of equal funding from the EU’s various rail inter-connection programmes.
The Chairman, Canon David Crooks, who is based in Donegal, was scathing at the lack of support from politicians.
“We are here to send a clear message to them that the North West of Ireland is no longer content to be treated as less than a third world region.”
He went on: “There is absolutely no conflict between the rail objectives of our group and the equally urgent objectives of those thousands of citizens committed to addressing the disgraceful neglect of the national roads system here.
“We simply demand parity of connectivity with our sister regions around Belfast and Newry, Dublin, and Sligo. We do not expect any special treatment, just simple equality“.
Selwyn Johnston from Headhunters Railway Museum said ‘Fermanagh, Tyrone and its border counties lost their rail service over 50 years ago.
“Visitors to Headhunters Railway Museum still recall travelling on the railway and cite that it was the greatest mistake ever to close it.
“A current map of rail services within Ireland now shows a massive void in the west of the province, were rail services once operated.
“It’s a common expression for many, that within their lifetime, rail travel will never return to the west of the province. However in reality the idea that rail travel could return to the west within the next fifty years is by no means a fantasy and should be given serious consideration by transport strategists who plan our requirements for future generations.
“We cannot expect the rail network in the west to be created instantly, but rather a staged process prioritising the routes which there is an overwelming business case for.