The absence of a rail link to Armagh is preventing safer, easier and environmentally friendly travel for all commuters – Kelly
Aontú Newry & Armagh Candidate Martin Kelly stated:
“Other cities in the north – Belfast, Derry, Newry and Lisburn – have rail links, while Armagh has been side-lined. For many years there has been a consensus across the county to get the ten-mile rail link to Armagh, from the main line junction at Portadown, reinstated. Although thousands have signed petitions to support a rail link for Armagh, there has been no political will to even look at the plausibility of it.
“Few would disagree that Armagh is a huge but undersold tourist location, with possibly more major tourist attractions than anywhere else in the north. The lack of a rail link is depriving Armagh of a very substantial number of new visitors annually. This was highlighted by a survey in which 60 per cent of foreign tourists on the Enterprise trains said they did not consider visiting the city, due to the absence of a rail link.
“Our current political representatives endeavour to promote tourism in order to enhance infrastructure and to bring visitors quickly and conveniently to our beautiful city. It would seem that they are unaware that the track-bed of the former line to Portadown is largely still in situ and it would be relatively easy to re-open the line and with great benefits for tourism and for the many Richhill and Armagh commuters who currently drive to Portadown to access trains to study or work in Belfast.
“Much emphasis is put on road schemes to boost the economies of other areas, yet Armagh’s potential as a tourist centre and indeed a residential area, is restricted by the lack of a rail link of our own.
“It is obvious that congestion on the M1 will not decrease. The only way to provide better access from Armagh to Belfast is to restore the railway line to Portadown. The overall decline in bus usage masks the fact that rail passenger figures are booming. Railways are faster, safer, more comfortable, environmentally friendly and are not hindered by growing traffic congestion.”