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Local MLA Justin McNulty has welcomed progression of the   All Island Strategic Rail Review following the appointment of contractor ARUP by Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon.

The All Island Strategic Review will hopefully lead to better and faster train connections locally. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Mr. McNulty said the announcement from Minister Mallon and Irish Transport Minister Eamon Ryan was an important step in reviving and enhancing rail links across Ireland. 

The All Island Review held in partnership with the Irish Government will consider how the rail network on the island of Ireland can improve sustainable connectivity between major cities like Dublin and Belfast, enhance regional accessibility including to the North West and support balanced regional development.

The Review will also consider the feasibility of high-higher speeds on the network and whether there is a potential to increase use of the network for freight.

The Newry and Armagh MLA said “Reviving and enhancing rail links across the island of Ireland has been a long-term project for the SDLP and I’m delighted Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has taken a huge step towards making that vision a reality today. Ireland was once covered in rail links, joining our cities, towns and village. 

“A high speed rail link spanning from Derry to Cork will be transformative for people across the island. It would allow people to travel across our island faster and without the need for car or bus journeys. While this would bring obvious environmental benefits a high-speed rail network would also help attract investment and businesses to areas of the island which are historically neglected. A desire for modern transport links is often cited as a requirement for companies looking to invest across the North. It would also be a boost to commuters travelling to our technological centres in Belfast and Dublin. The review will also include exploring links with airports and ports which would enhance our island’s tourism offering. 

“Today’s announcement is a significant stage in a journey that could see rail reshaped across the island of Ireland. This project is long overdue and SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has not only shown a huge commitment to making this island’s transport links modern and accessible to all, she’s getting on with the job and proving that while others talk the talk, in government, we in the SDLP are prepared to walk the walk.”

Speaking on the appointment Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon added "This review expands on the commitment under the New Decade, New Approach agreement  to examine the feasibility of a high/higher speed rail link between Belfast, Dublin and Cork by now including Derry and Limerick. Minister Ryan and I have a shared ambition for rail and are committed to tackling the climate emergency. We are therefore keen that we use this opportunity to advance travel and tourism connections but also to improve the environment."

The review is expected to examine the potential for rail connections across the island including how existing connections could be improved and where new rail links would be best placed. It will also review how the rail network can be connected to international gateways through ports and airports.   The review will consider the use of transporting freight across the island using the rail network whilst considering how we can move to a low or zero emission rail network.

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