One of the less noted parts of the draft budget has been that of the Department of Regional Development. An 11 mile section of the railway line between Lisburn and Lurgan requires £40 million of repairs. The draft budget has allocated monies to improve the Coleraine to Londonderry line which would, Murphy claims, otherwise have been faced with closure but none to the Belfast Dublin line. Since money is not being spent on the Belfast to Dublin service, it will suffer further delays to the already far from impressive 2 hours journey time: there are portions of track with a 20 miles per hour speed limit. Professor Austin Smyth, who is Head of the Department of Transport Studies at the University of Westminster, said he felt there were now “major issues” about the line’s “future viability”. Mr Murphy said it was his intention to identify funds for the section of track between Lisburn and Lurgan through the budget review group.
Although the successful (if slow) cross border rail service is to be starved of cash another cross border service is getting money: A5 dualling project is to go ahead despite costing vastly more money; being a road whose need for upgrade is less than clear and still having to face a public enquiry. To quote former Independent journalist Chris Wolmar: “The current road is not massively congested so what are they spending the money for? Would it not be better spent on other methods of transport or forms of economic regeneration?”
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