Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP has met with Translink CEO Chris Conway to discuss rail services in Newry.
The South Down MP said more trains from Newry and the wider South Down hinterland could capitalise on the growing potential of the Dublin – Belfast economic corridor.
Mr Hazzard said:
“In recent years there has been a continued growth in the number of commuters from the wider South Down and Newry area travelling to Dublin and Belfast for work on a daily basis. Yet this has not been matched by a similar growth in the rail services offered to potential passengers.
“In 2009 when Sinn Féin DRD Minister Conor Murphy opened the new £15million Newry Station there was an expectation that we would see a steady, sustainable growth in the availability and frequency of services to Dublin and Belfast from Newry.
“Unfortunately the subsequent growth has been slow and frustrating for local commuters – many of whom continue to choose the car due to a lack of frequent, reliable and affordable services.
“Whilst there has been some improvement in the availability of services connecting Dublin and Newry, we are still a long way off the type of modern, fit-for-purpose inter-city service you would expect.
“In light of this I have asked Translink to work with their counterparts in Iarnród Éireann to further develop rail connections with Dublin – including the possibility of connecting into the upcoming ’Coastal North’ expansion which will see regular DART services extended to Drogheda.”
Mr Hazzard added:
“In 2017, as Infrastructure Minister, I tasked Translink to ensure Newry was better connected to Belfast – and whilst we have seen an improvement in the evening services, there is still a lack of frequent morning services. Indeed there is only one train in the morning that goes directly from Newry to Belfast before 9am – and thats the 6.45am train which arrives in Belfast at 7.45am.
“This is simply not good enough; there should be at least two direct services in the morning that arrive in Belfast before 9am – including the early option that currently exists.
“Improving the availability and frequency of services to Dublin and Belfast will undoubtedly have important environmental, economic and social benefits for our local community. I look forward to working with both Translink and Iarnród Éireann in the time ahead, and hopefully we can see improvements as soon as possible.”