Londonderry to Coleraine railway line upgrade to cost additional £6m

Derry railway line Image copyright Dessie Kelly
Image caption £16.2m was the original amount of money allocated for the railway upgrade

Work on the second part of a major upgrade to the railway line between Londonderry and Coleraine is to get under way at the cost of a further £6m.

The Department of Regional Development contracts to complete re-signalling works and a passing loop on the line have been awarded.

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy said that the scheme will now cost £46m.

The original cost was estimated at £20m which then rose to £40m.

The project had been held up at the start of the year because of problems with the contract.

Work on the railway line is to begin at the end of June.

A local firm has also been awarded a contract for the construction of a passing loop at Bellarena.

'Not been straightforward'

Danny Kennedy said: "I am very pleased to announce today that work can now progress on this important project.

"My commitment to the Coleraine to Londonderry rail line has always been clear and I have worked hard to ensure that this line remained open.

"The project is a key Programme for Government commitment and is evidence of the executive's determination to invest in our rail network.

"It also signals our continuing commitment to invest in the North West and improve connections and frequency of service between Belfast and Londonderry."

The minister commissioned an independent review in 2014 of the project following concerns that the original cost estimate for the scheme was significantly underestimated.

"The overall cost at £46m is higher than originally envisaged but reflects the market we are competing in.

"I will make the funding available from my capital budget and the project should be largely completed by December 2016.

"The path to today's announcement has not been straightforward. It has not been without criticism."

Clive Bradberry of Translink said: "The line is already extremely successful boosting strong passenger growth up 12% last year.

"This announcement today is great news for the North West.

"When the work is completed it will mean a more resilient rail service to and from Derry, including the potential for more frequent and faster journeys.

"There will be some temporary travel arrangements needed during the course of the project, such as weekend line closures, but we will communicate these and any interim travel arrangements in good time, once confirmed."

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