Londonderry’s only rail link at present is the line to Coleraine, which continues from there to Belfast.
The minister, responding to a query from SDLP MLA Richie McPhillips about any “plans to establish a Derry to Dublin railway service”, said a feasibility study was planned.
He said: “Building the strategic connections between Derry, Belfast and Dublin will help unlock the economic potential of the North West. My Programme for Government Delivery Plan includes a feasibility study on the enhancement of the Enterprise service and a proposal to develop the Derry to Dublin rail service.”
The minister warned that providing a rail link from Northern Ireland’s second city directly to Dublin would prove expensive.
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He said: “The ability to run a Derry to Dublin direct service requires the purchase of additional rolling stock commensurate with an inter-city service and then increasing the frequency of services between Derry to Belfast and Belfast to Dublin to an hourly frequency.
“This will require a significant increase in revenue subsidy both for NIR and Iarnród Éireann as well as new Enterprise trains.”
Plans for a Londonderry to Sligo railway were explored in 2013 and were even put out to public consultation.
Meanwhile, Translink has launched a public consultation to develop proposals for a new transport hub in the Waterside area of Londonderry; a major new facility which they say will ‘transform travel in the region’. Proposals include the restoration and refurbishment of the former listed railway station.