A report from a Stormont committee this week backs up everything said by rail campaigners about the unacceptable handling of contracts relating to upgrade of the Coleraine-Derry line. The report concerns the delays and doubling of the cost of the upgrade of the Coleraine-Derry rail-line. Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen must explain what she proposes to do about the DRD committee's damning indictment of her Department. The people of Derry have a right to know why the north west seems always left behind when a mess is made of economic planning. One reason for the latest fiasco is that the Belfast authorities totally underestimated the potential of the Derry line. The DRD was working on their consultants’ 2007 prediction of passenger numbers on the Derry line increasing by 25 percent. In fact, the increase has been a staggering 238 percent. The old problem, the under-estimation of Derry, was evident once again. McIlveen’s Department has been running scared of this report since July 1st last year, when it was delivered to her office. It was only published this week because the committee lost patience and put it out without her say-so. The report calls for an “urgent review” of the way projects such as this are managed. This should be set up immediately. The key issue arises from the near-doubling of the cost of the “Coleraine to Londonderry Rail Track Phase 2”, involving the construction of a passing loop at Bellarena and the installation of new signalling. Work was to begin in 2014 and be completed by the end of last year. Now the target is the end of this year – and nobody can be certain that date will be met. The previous minister, Danny Kennedy, admitted last year that the estimated cost of the upgrade, £22 million, had been nothing more than a “guesstimate”. The real figure turned out to be around £40 million. This is astonishing stuff. But nobody has been held responsible. Doing down Derry is obviously seen in official circles as no big deal. The same fiasco had already been the subject of Westminster inquiries. MPs delivered a report to Danny Kennedy in September 2014. But he refused to pass it on to the Assembly committee. When committee chairman Alex Maskey asked last March for even a redacted version, he was told that “considerations of commercial confidentiality” ruled that out. The way the matter has been handled is scandalous. While Minister McIlveen is the target for current criticism - and rightly so - there have been DRD ministers from a number of parties during the course of this sorry saga. The people of Foyle can be assured that if I am a MLA after May 5th, any further such instances of anti-Derry bias and/or incompetence will spark the sort of uproar that Stormont hasn’t experienced in a long time. It should also be kept in mind that rail is the most reliable, most comfortable and most environmentally-friendly means of mass transportation that we have. It should be cherished, modernised and expanded, not treated in this casual manner. Our railways remain in the public sector. They could be a shining example of the advantages of the public sector when compared with the chaotic mess made of the railways by the private sector across the water.