A scoping study into the feasibility of a rail link between Armagh and Portadown has been agreed by the Council’s regeneration committee at a cost of £7,500.
The move – subject to ratification at full Council later this month – would look at the potential of re-opening the line closed back in 1957.
Derek Smyth, from the Portadown and Armagh Railway Society (PARS), said that while he is grateful at the “hint of progress”, he says it is disappointing it has has taken 18 months to get to this point.
“We are obviously pleased that there is a hint of progress with the agreement to fund a scoping study,” he said.
“Not wanting to sound ungrateful, it is nonetheless disappointing that it has taken since April 2018 to get to the point where something might actually happen.
“The Council passed a £30,000 resolution to have a full feasibility study done over 18 moths ago, and only now we get a scoping study at £7500.
“The Council has a tremendous opportunity to take the lead with this Climate Change initiative. A railway service to Armagh similar to the one running to Portadown could take thousands of Armagh commuter journeys off the roads every month and replace them with a rapid railway service to Belfast and places in between.”
Earlier this month, it marked five years (November 10, 2014), since the 10,000 signature petition by residents of the City of Armagh was delivered to Stormont.
In response to their demand to have the railway reinstated to Armagh City, the PARS group were told that the project would be under way in five years time.
“It was five years last week,” said Mr Smyth. “That’s a lot of disappointed Armagh City residents.”
On December 9, the University of Ulster Department of Civil Engineering and the Built Environment will make their provisional report out on the reinstatement of the Portadown-Armagh City railway.
Members of the Portadown Armagh Railway Society, who helped initiate this study, have been invited to attend.
Said Mr Smyth: “It will be fascinating to hear what this high level study reveals. This study has only taken 12 weeks whereas a year and a half has been frittered away since the Council resolved to do a study.
“We look forward to supporting the scoping study in any way we can, and are open and available to participate in any way we can.”