News

Tunnel part of exciting 5m Newry to Armagh greenway proposals

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Tunnel part of exciting 5m Newry to Armagh greenway proposals thumbnailA HIDDEN bridge at Tyrones Ditches just north of the Lissummon Tunnel. Picture courtesy of NI Greenways.

EXCITING plans for a new 33km traffic-free greenway between Newry and Armagh have been unveiled.

Described as a "forgotten engineering treasure hidden in the countryside", the route would incorporate Lissummon Tunnel and would be the centrepiece of the scheme, which it is estimated would cost 5million.

The proposals say it would repurpose "an abandoned railway route steeped in a rich history".

The route of the railway, travelling north from Newry, rose up towards Goraghwood in parallel with the Dublin-Belfast main line. After Goraghwood Station (no longer in existence) the Newry and Armagh Line crossed over and continued climbing above Jerretspass.

The document explaining the plans, published by NI Greenways, said: "Turning away from the main line course along the Newry Canal, the line tunnelled under the nearby hills before heading north through Markethill, Hamiltownsbawn and turned west into Armagh itself.

"The line operated until 1933 when the Armagh - Markethill section closed. Goods operations between Markethill and Newry until 1957 before the line closed completely in 1965."

Those behind the plans suggest that the success of the conversion of the Ballyvoyle Tunnel, as part of the recently opened Waterford Greenway, could be replicated here. The Ballyvoyle facility has atmospheric lighting in the tunnel refuges which could be replicated in the Lissummon Tunnel.

"The Lissummon Tunnel is a unique place that we should be inviting the world to explore as we continue towards our government's 25 year goal of building a network of greenways across the country," the document reads. "The countryside as you emerge from the southern entrance is spectacular.

"Work would be required to assess the structural integrity and to alleviate the significant water seepage in the central section, but a fully functioning tunnel would be worth the effort."

The document adds: "The Department for Infrastructure has put a basic per-mile estimate on a greenway project at 4.2million. Two fully refurbished tunnels at Lissummon and Loughgilly would likely push the total project over the 5m mark."

NI Greenways say that the route and priorities would have to be determined by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, along with and the landowners and stakeholders along the route.

But they add that the economic benefits of such greenways are being shown time and again in other parts of the island.

"If the Lissummon Greenway can find its way between the cities of Newry and Armagh, there is potential for an excellent triangle route including Portadown - utilising the existing Newry Canal Towpath and another expected greenway linking Armagh and Portadown," they say.

"This important inter-urban greenway can drive employment, tourism an active travel in settlements which have been relatively quiet since the days of the permanent way - and the Lissummon Tunnel is the ace up the sleeve."

If you would like to read more about the plans visit nigreenways.com

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