NORTHERN Ireland Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon, and the Republic of Ireland's Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, announced the launch of an all-island Strategic Rail Review that could potentially lead to rail services being reintroduced to the northwest of Ireland.

The overall objective of the review is to examine the role of rail in supporting relevant policy objectives North – South, with a particular emphasis on achieving climate change objectives.

The review will strategically review the rail network on the island of Ireland in relation to improving sustainable connectivity between the major cities, enhancing regional accessibility, including to the north west, and supporting balanced regional development and considering the potential to increase rail freight.


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The review is also set to consider the potential scope for improved rail services along the various existing, or future potential, corridors of the network, and will include the consideration of high-level design and operational proposals for identified corridors, as appropriate.

Welcoming the review, Mrs. Mallon said: "The All-Island Strategic Rail Review will allow us to consider our network across this island to view how we can improve it for everyone.

"Building on our commitments in 'New Decade, New Approach' to progress a spine of connectivity, this ambitious review, in partnership, will look at opportunities to enhance rail across our island.”

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Cross-Community Labour Alternative (CCLA) Councillor Donal O'Cofaigh explained that Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has written to Mrs. Mallon to request that work also be conducted on a feasibility study for bringing the rail service to the district.

"Obviously that would necessarily be a cross-Border service, say from Belfast in the direction of Sligo," said Councillor O'Cofaigh.

"Rail is a key component of how we can transition to a more sustainable carbon-neutral public transport system.

"There’s also a recognition in the South that there’s very inadequate infrastructure in the northwest part of the island, and in particular, Donegal, Londonderry, Fermanagh, Tyrone.

"So really, we’ve been asking for a feasibility study to be commissioned to extend it to Enniskillen," he said, adding: "I just think that the whole situation is that we are just going to have to keep the pressure on.

"I think there’s going to be an imperative to consider how we transition to renewable energy forms in transport, and trains are the best at that.

"Of course, buses have a vital role to play as well, but trains have a particular role and I do think it’s going to change a lot of thinking."

Acknowledging how some of his fellow councillors think that the return of a railway service to Enniskillen is "pie in the sky stuff", Councillor O'Cofaigh said: "I think it has to happen if we’re going to get a carbon-neutral society. We have to try and enable people to travel in mass transit with renewable energy, and electrified trains are the way to do that."