In recent years the need for major investment simply to keep the Londonderry Line operating on the section to the north west of Coleraine has become apparent.
The modernisation of this line has now been approved.
From mid-February the delivery of ballast by train has commenced as a preliminary to closure of the line between the end of July and April 2013 for track relaying and bridge repairs.
To facilitate this work, two of NIR’s 111 class General Motors locomotives have been out based in Londonderry, these becoming the first locomotives to work west of Coleraine since mid-2008 when they moved west on 12th February!
At present they are working overnight trains delivering ballast to site.
The Belfast to Londonderry line is due to be reopened prior to the 2013 City of Culture celebrations in Londonderry. In the financial year 2010/11, the route carried 1,477,000 passengers, nearly 50% more that 5 years earlier.
Following completion of the initial stage of track works, around £20m signalling works including a new passing loop are due to be completed by 2015 and then the remaining track relaying work will be completed.