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Rail journey figures add weight to Armagh line campaign

A total of 2.8 million journeys were taken on the Portadown train line last year, according to new figures from Translink.

The figure represents a 10 per cent increase on the previous year and is a vindication of the improvements carried out to Portadown Train Station.

The news comes as the people of Armagh continue to campaign to have the old Armagh line restored.

Transport Minister and Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy is pushing hard for the £13m refurbishment of the Belfast-Dublin line, and with an eye west to Dungannon and Fermanagh.

Mr Kennedy is also said to be keen on reinstating the Armagh line, which was closed some 50 years ago.

He has been inundated with requests to look at re-opening it, with similar calls from Dungannon and Enniskillen.

It all comes with passenger numbers in Northern Ireland Railways recording a record rise in rail travel since the halcyon days before the great closure of the majority of Northern Ireland’s lines during the 1950s and 1960s.

The numbers have reached a new high of 13 million, a rise of 1.6 million, with Mr Kennedy putting it down to the investment in new trains and to the upgrading of lines like the north coast and stations like Portadown.

“I will continue to make the strongest possible case for more railways investment,” said the DRD Minister. “But I recognise the significant costs involved in extending the current rail network. “

Line extensions can cost in the region of £11 million per mile.

Progress in extending the rail network will depend on funding that can be made available to the Department.

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