HOPES are high the recently launched ‘All Island Rail Review’ could help right the wrongs of the past and possibly see trains returning to Fermanagh, as long as rural areas are not forgotten about again.
In fact, there have been calls for counties such as Fermanagh, Donegal, Tyrone, Cavan and Monaghan to not only be included in the review, but prioritised.
First announced back in April, last week it was confirmed engineering consultancy firm ARUP had been appointed as the contractor to take the review forward.
“This is important step forward in delivering our All Island Strategic Rail Review which will allow us to consider and improve our network across this island for everyone,” said Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, who added the review aimed to enhance regional accessibility, including to the north west.
“This review will examine the potential for rail connections across the island including how our existing connections could be improved and where new rail links would be best placed,” Minister Mallon continued, adding she was working closely with the Dublin government on the plan.
“It will also review how we can connect our rail network to our international gateways through our ports and airports.
“The review will consider the use of transporting freight across our island using the rail network whilst considering how we can move to a low or zero emission rail network as we seek to tackle the climate emergency.”
Local MLA Jemma Dolan welcomed news a contractor had been appointed to the project, and warned that rural areas such as Fermanagh should not be forgotten in the review.
“The restoration of rail links is key to addressing regional imbalance as well as developing greener and more sustainable forms of transport,” said Ms Dolan.
“Fermanagh lost it’s rail service in the 1950s. The decision back then was wrong and we continue to live with the repercussions.
“The All Island Strategic Rail Review is an opportunity to acknowledge that and, more importantly, to set things right.”
Ms Dolan continued: “County Fermanagh is the only county in the north without one inch of railway, motorway or dual carriageway. It is long past time that this striking regional imbalance was tackled.
“The north-west cannot be ignored in this Rail Review. Fermanagh, Donegal, Tyrone, Monaghan and Cavan must not only be included, they must be prioritised.
“If you look at any map of the railway network in Ireland the counties I mentioned have been completely ignored in the past.
“Now is the time to address this historical deficit.”
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