The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is a devolved Northern Ireland Government Department in the Northern Ireland Executive
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) was formed in May 2016 and operates under the direction and control of a Minister for Infrastructure. The Department is staffed by civil servants who are accountable to the Minister, who is a member of the Northern Ireland Executive and accountable to the Assembly.
The Permanent Secretary, Katrina Godfrey, is the Accounting Officer for the Department and the Minister’s principal adviser. Katrina Godfrey chairs the Departmental Board, which is a key element in the delivery of Corporate Governance within the Department.
Details of all the arrangements which have been established to ensure proper and effective management of the Department’s affairs are set out in the Corporate Governance Framework.
The Departmental Board is comprised of five Executive members and two non-executive independent members. The Strategic Human Resources Business Partner for the Department also attends Board meetings. The Department provides a capital grant to Translink for Northern Ireland Railways to operate rail services. The funding helps maintain and develop the rail infrastructure, allows rail services to operate safely and efficiently and helps make public transport an attractive alternative to private transport.
Public Transport Division approves and monitors the Capital Grant allocated to Translink ensuring that projects demonstrate value for taxpayers’ money and expenditure falls within budgetary limits.
The past few years have seen significant investment in the railways. From the year 2009/10 to 2017/18, the Department has funded over £370 million of capital works on the railways in Northern Ireland.
The major projects currently completed or underway include:
- The acquisition of twenty new trains, the last of which entered passenger service at the end of August 2012
- New ticketing projects are underway covering both rail and bus services
- Completed Phases 1 & 2 of the Coleraine to Londonderry railway line.
- Completed a major upgrade of the railway line between Knockmore and Lurgan
- Commenced work on new stations at Portrush and the North West Multi Modal Transport Hub
- Planning has been submitted for a new Belfast Transport Hub that will provide facilities for walking, cycling and public transport.
Heritage and Tourist Railways in Northern Ireland are privately owned and run. They do not provide passenger services for the travelling public and are not funded by the Department, they are however a valuable tourist and heritage amenity.
All railway operators in Northern Ireland including light and heritage railways are required to comply with all new regulations introduced by the Department to further improve railway safety. In some circumstances heritage railways operating on their own tracks and at a line speed that does not exceed 25 mph may be exempted from some of the more onerous regulations where the Department is satisfied that the safety of passengers and the general public is not compromised.
The Department has responsibility for the licensing of all light railways including heritage railways operating in Northern Ireland in exercise of the powers conferred on it under section 27 of the Regulation of Railways Act 1868.
The Department transposed a series of Directives into law in Northern Ireland designed to revitalise the railways and take forward the creation of an integrated European railway area. This is known as the transposition of EU directives on railway interoperability and railway safety.