No extra trains for Christmas shoppers

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

TRANSLINK would not confirm if they are planning to expand the number of trains travelling from Newry to Belfast during the Christmas period.

Currently, the last train that leaves Belfast Central between Monday and Saturday arrives in Newry at 9.02pm, while the last train on a Sunday leaves at 7.05pm and arrives in Newry at 7.58pm.

However, towns such as Lisburn, Portadown and Lurgan can all benefit from trains that leave Belfast at 11.10pm Monday to Saturday and 10.10pm on a Sunday.

Translink did confirm however, that a late service from Europa Bus Centre to Newry is available at 10.50pm Monday to Friday and 10pm every Saturday.

Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty, who has been campaigning for better rail services in Newry, described the situation as "diabolical" and accused Translink of doing "nothing only cut" services in the town since the new train station was opened at a cost of 14 million.

“In the run up to Christmas it is an ideal opportunity to encourage people onto the trains and I have tabled questions to the Minister [of Infrastructure] about what incentives or promotions Translink are putting in place for the festive period, all the evidence suggests they have forgot that Christmas exists," said the SDLP representative.

“This is more than just encouraging people onto trains, it would reduce traffic congestion and people would be more productive when they do get to work.

“The problem is the Executive have no ambition for rail, I have pressed the Minister on the electrification of the rail network, the Dublin Government is looking at expanding the network and at a time when the UK Government are investing in high-speed rail our Executive is slashing services."

A Translink spokesperson said that in order to "incentivise" train travel during the festive period they are offering 25% off the cost of monthly local rail tickets and 50% off day return vouchers for travel before 9.30am.

The normal price of a monthly rail ticket for services from Belfast to Newry costs 202 and if commuters decide to take advantage of the 25% discount, they will make a saving of 50.50.

“As an integrated bus and rail transport service, we aim to provide an overall transport solution for our customers and be your first choice for travel in Northern Ireland," said a Translink spokesperson.

“Following a previous request for a late service from Belfast to Newry we now operate a 22.50 Monday to Friday service from the Europa Bus Centre and a 22.00 service every Saturday.

“To incentivise travel by train we currently have a number of special offers in place."

Free weekend rail travel will only apply to monthly tickets worth 80 or over and the special offer does not apply to cross-border services.


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