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Train between Derry and Belfast

Talks in place for free train travel for tourists over 66

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Train between Derry and Belfast

The Golden Trekker scheme, which provides unlimited free rail travel to older tourists visiting Ireland, may well be extended.

Introduced last year as a pilot project, the scheme issued 15,000 tickets for free rail travel to over 66-year-olds for travel on national, local and commuter trains between mid-March and December 2010.

The test scheme was developed by Failte Ireland, the Irish tourist board and Iarnrod Eireann, the Irish national train service, as a bid to boost tourism numbers.

But last month Iarnrod Eireann said it could not commit to the scheme beyond 2010 due to revised financial considerations. It said it would however consider continuation of the scheme if it received a payment from Failte Ireland.

The Irish Minister for Tourism Mary Hanafin has indicated she will work closely with colleagues in Irish Rail, Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland to continue the rail travel scheme in 2011. The minister said she believes it will pay important dividends for Irish hotels, Bed and Breakfast's and restaurants nationwide.

Failte Ireland said it wished to see the scheme pursued in 2011. A spokesperson told the press if there was agreement, the scheme would begin on Saint Patrick's Day‚ which is the traditional start of the Irish tourist season.

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