Rail passengers will have to walk to peace bridge

THE new Foyle footbridge will not be directly accessible by rail passengers who will walk up Duke Street and the Waterside Link to get to the new crossing until a more direct Sustrans footpath is constructed.

The Rail Minister Conor Murphy also advised Translink will take account of the forthcoming UK City of Culture 2013 in planning an upgrade of the Londonderry to Coleraine railway line.

It was recently revealed the works will involve the closure of the line for a full year including the start of 2013.

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East Londonderry MLA John Dallat asked what steps Mr Murphy was taking to ensure the railway line is upgraded for the City of Culture events in 2013.

He replied: "The Economic Appraisal for the Coleraine to Derry Track Renewals project has very recently been approved by DFP.

"I have agreed that Translink will issue a Pre Qualification Questionnaire to potential contractors."

The Minister warned a final decision on the affordability of the scheme will have to be taken in the light of agreed budgets but that Translink anticipated a procurement exercise could begin in early 2011.

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Mr Murphy added: "Translink advise that the most cost effective way to complete the major works involved in upgrading the line is to close the full line from Coleraine to Derry for approximately a year.

"They will consider options to speed up the work during procurement but disruption is inevitable in order to complete such a major project. However, my officials are liaising closely with Translink to ensure the disruption is minimal and that the planning process will take into consideration that Derry will be the City of Culture in 2013."

The Minister continued by saying planning would go on:

"By issuing the Pre Qualification Questionnaire at this point Translink can continue planning taking due account of the Culture year timetable."

Asked if rail passengers would be able to access the footbridge directly the Minister advised that they would have to walk up the public footpath from Duke Street via the Waterside Link and King Street.

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Said the Minister: "Translink have advised that the Foyle footbridge ties in with the public footpath network which also links to the rail station.

"I understand that there is also some work being led by Sustrans, which Translink are co-operating with, to seek to construct a more direct footpath from the bridge to the rail station."