Not enough trains to address overcrowding on Londonderry line
THE large number of passengers using the Belfast to Londonderry train service on Friday afternoons is leading to overcrowding problems and Translink does not currently have enough trains to meet the demand.
Rail Minister Conor Murphy said the increased number of passengers travelling to the North West - particularly on a Friday - was indicative of the improvements made to the service over the past number of years.
He said the current problems would eventually be tackled with the introduction of 20 new trains on the overall rail network but that he could not extend the 4.28pm service from Belfast to Ballymena to Londonderry as it would mean there was no train available for the 6.10pm Belfast to Portrush service.
The Minister was asked if he would consider additional train services between 2.10pm and 4.00pm or between 4.10pm and 6.00pm from Belfast to Londonderry or if he would extend the 4.28pm from Belfast to Ballymena so that it continued to Londonderry.
The Minister replied: "Translink advise that currently they do not have the resources to provide increased frequency in services to the North West between 14:10 hours and 18:00 hours.
"They recognise that there are large numbers of passengers travelling to the North West on Friday afternoons and whenever possible will add additional capacity to the 16:10 service to Derry by using carriages available from elsewhere on the network.
"They also advise that if the 16:28 train from Belfast to Ballymena was extended through to Derry there would be no train in Belfast to operate the 18:10 service through to Portrush.
"The problems that are occurring on the Belfast to Derry line are arising because of the increased numbers of passengers using the line which is an indicator of the recent improvement in the services.
"I am hopeful that some of the current problems can be tackled when the 20 new trains are introduced to service on the overall network and additional trains are deployed on the Derry line.
"This is scheduled to happen in 2013, following completion of the Coleraine to Derry track relay, which I am committed to. Along with revenue subsidy to NI Railways, this project is subject to Executive decisions on the budget."
The Minister said the former Gatwick Express locomotive-hauled rolling stock was not suitable for the short haul commuter service from Belfast to Londonderry.
"Translink advise that the ex Gatwick Express rolling stock is part of their strategic reserve fleet. The primary reason the Gatwick train has not been placed in service in recent times is that these are locomotive-hauled carriages which are not suitable for short haul commuter type operations.
"They have been kept primarily to back up the cross-border Enterprise fleet," he stated.
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Weather for Londonderry
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 8 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west