A MAJOR £1.3m contract has been awarded to Magherafelt-based firm FP McCann by Translink to complete an engineering project to upgrade the Coleraine to Portrush railway line alongside Dutch rail contractor BAM.
Work on the McCann BAM venture started this week and is expected to run until late April.
It involves re-railing six miles of track with an estimated 1,150 tonnes of new rail being used. Also, the installation of new trackside drainage, work at level and user-worked crossings as well as the repair of ‘wet spots’ – areas of track weakness that would lead to speed restrictions if not repaired.
Translink Infrastructure Executive Clive Bradberry says the work will ensure the line is maintained at a high standard, contributing to the economic and social regeneration of the area.
“We are pleased to work with local company FP McCann on this important project that will improve passenger journeys between Coleraine and Portrush. Almost half a million passenger journeys have been made along this line in the past two years. The impact of the introduction of new trains and improved infrastructure already completed on the Derry line has resulted in an increase of around 40% passenger growth on this branch line since 2002 – and we want to build on this success.
“We will keep local residents and passengers fully informed on project requirements as well as temporary travel arrangements and would ask for their support as we work to improve the local rail service,” said Clive.
Hugh McCann, director of FP McCann said: “We are delighted to be involved in this important project and look forward to extending our established working relationship with Translink. Our approach is to take account of the needs of all stakeholders and carry out our work in a considerate manner to minimise noise and disruption in successful delivery of an improved infrastructure.”
The contract has been welcomed by both the DUP MLA Ian McCrea and Ulster Unionist MLA Billy Armstrong.
Councillor McCrea said: “I am delighted. In these hard economic times it is good to hear that government contracts are available giving a necessary boost to our local economy.”
Mr Armstrong said: “I am delighted that a local firm has been able to secure this contract and that work has already begun on improving the railway line in the North-West of the Province. In an age whenever we have high speed modern trains across Northern Ireland, it is essential that our tracks are fit for purpose. It has been a common complaint that has been aired to me that our trains are having to significantly slow down on sections of track and this upgrade will go some way to improving the overall service and train times.