An SDLP press release issued today reveals the results of a “bicycle versus train” challenge on Sunday, travelling between Derry and Belfast.
John Madden and Peter Jack set off from Derry’s General Post Office at 9.15am.
John threw his leg over his bicycle and broke the Derry to Belfast record (held by Morris ‘Big Mo’ Foster) as he pedalled down to Belfast Albert Memorial Clock (avoiding motorways) in 2 hours 27 minutes.
Meanwhile Peter caught the 09:42 train from Londonderry railway station to Belfast Central and made it to the leaning clock two minutes after the sweating cyclist. [Ed – If they’d started at the railway station the results would have been very different … but what journey ever starts at a transport hub!?]
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood described the journey time between Derry and Belfast as “embarrassing”.
Limavady solicitor and seasoned triathlete, Peter Jack suggested the challenge in order to highlight the inadequacies of the rail infrastructure between the two cities. The result, while massively impressive in terms of John Madden’s cycling performance, is nothing short of embarrassing for Northern Ireland’s railway system …
The fact that when Peter finally got there, John had been waiting for two minutes. That is a damning indictment of the rail speed between the North’s two main cities.
Calling on Minister Danny Kennedy to complete Phase 2 of the railway upgrade project sooner than expected, Colum Eastwood said:
While a fantastic achievement for John Madden, a man on a bike beating a £5m train between the two biggest cities in Northern Ireland proves how ludicrous the current rail journey time is.
If Peter had delayed the start time and caught the 10am bus he might just have reached the Albert Clock in time.
But I wouldn’t fancy John’s chances going the other direction …
Update – Translink note that the Phase 2 work on the Londonderry-Coleraine line has reached the stage of signalling designers being appointed as well as civil designers appointed to progress the new passing loop at Bellarena.