Stewart expresses concerns on the impact of projected sea level rises on rail infrastructure

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Stewart expresses concerns on the impact of projected sea level rises on rail infrastructure

John Stewart MLA, Ulster Unionist Party Infrastructure spokesperson, has expressed concern over a report, commissioned by Translink, on the impact of projected sea level rises on rail infrastructure. The recent report, prepared by AECOM Infrastructure and Environment UK Limited, on behalf of Translink, has highlighted some of the concerns and threats posed to the rail infrastructure across Northern Ireland due to the adverse impacts of climate change. The report examines 22 rail locations across Northern Ireland that are at risk of being damaged due to adverse effects of climate change by 2040, 2060, 2080 and 2100.

Mr Stewart said, “This report is crucial as we look at the adverse impacts climate change has on our environment and infrastructure. The Ulster Unionists are committed to seeing all infrastructure invested in across Northern Ireland, including a greater investment to improve our rail infrastructure to be more effective and efficient.

“The report highlights that by 2040, 7 rail locations are at high risk of sea level rising with 4 locations being at medium risk. Northern Ireland currently has only 6 rail lines operating and any loss to our rail infrastructure will have detrimental impacts on our economy and local communities. However, it is inevitable that within the next 16 years, the impacts of climate change will destroy parts of the Larne and Londonderry Line, with no option existing to save these tracks.

“With today’s debate, brought to the Assembly by the SDLP, on the development of an all-island rail network there needs to be a focus on investing in our current established rail networks that are under threat of being destroyed.

“Whilst there is currently a feasibility study being undertaken for Phase 3 of the Londonderry Line to Coleraine, it’s important to acknowledge that, in the next 16 years, several of the locations on the Londonderry Line will be destroyed due to sea levels rising. Therefore, rather than looking to expand the Line, there needs to be urgent discussions around how any available resources can be used to save or redirect the areas at risk.

“As an East Antrim MLA, I know the concerns this study will have for many of my constituents who rely heavily on the Larne Line as their main form of transport. Ulster Unionists are calling that over the next number of years, there needs to be urgent consultation with the Department of Infrastructure at looking to move and re-run the Londonderry and Larne Line to ensure that the line is not lost completely.

However, further consultation is needed by the Department to examine the future impacts climate change will have on other rail locations and what work needs to be done now to start planning and preparing for future rail moves and re-runs.”