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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 14:18 GMT
Disused track 1 mile from airport
By Colletta Smith
BBC News

The Lisburn to Antrim line
The current Lisburn to Antrim line runs very close to the airport
One mile from Belfast International Airport lies a disused railway line, and the biggest airline operating out of the airport want it back in action.

Easyjet spokesman Tony Nicol told the BBC it was "absolutely ridiculous" that there were no plans to reopen the line.

"We've got this great asset... so very close to the airport and it's just a shame its not being used," he said.

The airport claim it would cost significant amounts of public expenditure to re-open the line.

An airport spokesperson said: "Our understanding is that government spending priorities are not focused on lesser used railway lines in the foreseeable future but it will continue to be on our own agenda."

Last year Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy said that more passengers would have to use the airport every year to sustain a railway link.

However, SDLP South Antrim MLA Thomas Burns described the situation as "ludicrous".

"We have a perfectly useable track which runs within a mile of the airport but there is no will to develop it. I don't really think that I need to spell out just how much of a wasted opportunity this is," he said.

Mr Burns thinks that opening the line would get traffic off the roads, reduce pollution and generate revenue for Translink.

Translink said that the Knockmore line is still maintained and used for training purposes and emergency use, and if a business case was successful, the line may incorporate the airport in the future.

A spokesperson said: "We are confident that the line could be integrated into the overall network and will continue to make the case that it has a strategic part to play in meeting Northern Ireland's diverse transport needs."

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