Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Clearly they’re coming – so build it!!!

Posted in Customer service, Great Britain, Infrastructure, Ireland, Politics by Chairman Pip on 12 September 2011

There is much evidence to suggest that it is not merely commuting and intercity travel where the railways are booming. Rural branch lines in Great Britain are experiencing a boom in passenger numbers, no doubt helped by the financial crisis causing a boom in the “staycation” idea, as well as community rail becoming more prominent in the operation of such short, often single track routes. The picturesque scenery of the journey, combined with what is at the ultimate destination, whether it be a seaside town, or somewhere known for its architecture and culture, all seem to be encouraging more and more people onto the railways.

“Rural railway passenger numbers on the increase”

The green agenda also is an issue that provides encouragement to government to invest in maintaining and improving such railways that lead to improvements in the passenger experience, which leads to more people using them, which encourages the TOC to also invest. The community rail idea is so successful that it is the catalyst for groups on the other side of the Irish Sea to suggest something similar for the rural branch lines in Ireland that currently appear under threat of closure. Because despite categorical denials from the politicians, there is a threat to rural lines in Ireland, most notably the Belfast-Derry, which as we all know requires a major re-lay costing £75m, and which the Northern Ireland Executive says it simply doesn’t have due to the public sector spending cuts. But, I still maintain, why is it so hard for the money not to be found elsewhere? Even though we have devolution, should that mean that central government takes no interest at all? After all, what is the point of the Northern Ireland Office? To quote directly from the website:

The Northern Ireland Office is responsible for overseeing the Northern Ireland devolution settlement and representing Northern Ireland interests at UK Government level and UK Government interests in Northern Ireland.

“Representing Northern Ireland interests at UK Government level, and UK Government interests in Northern Ireland”. Given how much publicity Derry is supposed to be getting in 2013, that is intended to serve as an economic driver for the province, surely it is in NI’s interests to improve the railway, and in the British government’s interests to help the economy. NI Railways has done well over the last few years improving the rest of its network. Neither it, nor those that control it at a government level, should be allowed to give up now.

Standing bowler-hatted before the towering cobwebbed chimneys of the once-famed steelworks of Dowlais, South Wales, Britain’s monarch spoke four live-wire words; spurring a Government. Electrifying a nation of loyal subjects. “Something, he said, “must be done . . .”

Indeed, something must be done. And someone must say publically that something must be done. Nationalist area though it may be, no doubt even the good burghers of Derry would recognise that an individual such as the Prince of Wales would be influential. Whatever the case, the Derry line is too important to be allowed to stagnate and eventually be discarded.

“Derry to Coleraine train line service to be reduced”

The Prince of Wales recognises the importance of railways, and often uses the Royal Train. If he declared "something must be done" about the Derry line, people may well sit up and listen

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