Northern Ireland

Londonderry to Coleraine railway line reopens

NIE Staff on the line
Image caption Work on updating the Londonderry to Coleraine has been completed.

The new railway line between Londonderry and Coleraine has reopened to regular passenger services.

The track between Derry and Coleraine had been closed for major engineering works since July 2012.

The line opened slightly ahead of schedule as it was due to open in April 2013.

The work on the line means that trains run more smoothly, and for the first time, the daily service now arrives before 09:00 GMT.

Passengers on the first trains to arrive in Derry welcomed the reopening.

"It's unrecognisable from what it was 12 months ago," said one man. "There's no more of the clickety click, clickety clicks."

Conductor, Stacey Loughlin, said she was just glad to be back on the route. "The train is a lot smoother. It's easier to walk through when you are trying to get your tickets!"

Minister for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy, arrived in Derry on Friday on the first train from Belfast.

'Landmark decision'

"I have to say it was absolutely thrilling," he said. "Michael Portillo and Michael Palin didn't do it justice. Even on a day like today the route is spectacular."

He said the reopening of the route was "a red letter day" for him.

"Some day I will look back on a ministerial career, and I think this will be the landmark decision I will look to, protecting this line, restoring this line for the future.

"It's the right decision and I'm delighted to be the minister responsible."

Catherine Mason, chief executive of Translink, paid tribute to the employees and contractors who had worked to ensure the line was opened in time for Easter.

She said work on a signalling and passing loop, which will allow more than one train on the track at a time, will begin in 2014.

More on this story