IT MUST be full-steam ahead for the return of the rail line to Omagh if Enniskillen’s own wish for trains returning is not to hit the buffers.
Steve Bradley from the Into The West campaign group has long been pushing for the return of working railway lines to link the west back up with Belfast, Derry and the Republic of Ireland.
Back in the day, Enniskillen’s railway station – where the Railway Retail Park is – had passenger trains going to Derry, Bundoran, Sligo and Dundalk before the Northern Ireland Government under Basil Brooke closed the line in 1957.
Omagh’s own station and line was closed that year as well. However, as Bradley states, if Enniskillen is to open up a new rail station and line, they must back Omagh’s bid to do the same first.
He said: “We’re launching a campaign to re-introduce the railway line that used to run from Derry to Portadown and open the link between Derry and Letterkenny.
“So that will open a North-West corridor from Letterkenny to Portadown that would include a stop at Omagh. That would provide a way to get to Belfast from Co. Tyrone by going under Lough Neagh.
“The only way that you would realistically get rail travel back to Enniskillen is to get rail to Omagh first. There are only two directions to get rail to Enniskillen – one is from Omagh, the other from Sligo.
“For obvious reasons, not least that Omagh is a slightly bigger town than Sligo and that it’s in the same jurisdiction as Enniskillen, I’d say it’s more likely that we could get a rail connection from Omagh than from Sligo.
“Given that Enniskillen is the only likely place to get rail back full stop, the only chance of that happening is to get rail back to Omagh first.
“We’re going to do a roadshow of public meetings round each of the towns on that route and we’re also planning to have one in Enniskillen as well.
“We want to persuade the people of Fermanagh to support the idea of bringing rail back to Omagh because that’s your best chance of once again being able to travel by train from Enniskillen.”
Bradley says a campaign roadshow will be hitting both Enniskillen and Omagh and Into The West hope to have a guest speaker to show how re-opening a closed railway line can work for the region.
He added: “Realistically, the Enniskillen meeting could take place between early to mid-November. We’re trying to get over a guest speaker from Scotland where a few years back, the railway line from Edinburgh to the Borders was re-opened.
“The biggest town the Scottish Government restored rail to on that line is Galashiels – which is smaller than Enniskillen, Omagh, Strabane and Dungannon.
“So the argument we make is, if you can open a rail line in the Borders region of Scotland which also has stations for a number of towns smaller than ones in Fermanagh and Tyrone, you could do the same here.
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