Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

MLAs slam proposals to cut Newry train services

Local political representatives have voiced their anger at proposals to axe some train services between Newry and Belfast.  Speaking after it was announced that a number of Saturday train services between Newry and Belfast are to be slashed in addition to a reduction in daily services, SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh, Dominic Bradley said the move will come as a devastating blow to rail users.

“Translink propose to reduce non Enterprise services from Newry to Belfast and the proposals are devastating with Saturday service being abolished and some daily services being reduced by half,” explained Mr Bradley.

“These proposals must be fought at every opportunity.

“The Department for Regional Development are telling us time and time again that they want to encourage people from their cars onto public transport and yet at the same time they are slashing rail services between Newry and Belfast, it just doesn’t make sense.

Mr Bradley questioned why services between Portadown and Belfast have been left virtually untouched and said the proposals to slash daily non Enterprise services by 50% and to totally remove non Enterprise services on Saturdays was “completely unacceptable.”

“As it stands, I believe the citizens of Newry and Mourne have been abandoned by Translink, they have completely disregarded everything the train users have been telling them over recent years,” said the SDLP Assemblyman.

“They want to see Translink engage in a sustained campaign to raise awareness of the train services from Newry, that is the only way they can help grow the numbers using the service.

“Just five years ago Translink invested £14.6m in this new facility and that was very much welcome but we need to build on the services on offer from Newry, not reduce them.

Mr Bradley has requested a meeting with the Minister for Regional Development Danny Kennedy on the issue and said he would be asking the Minister to personally intervene to ensure the vital services “are not just protected but enhanced.”

Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has revealed he too has asked the Regional Development Minister to deliver a train service in Newry that is “on par” with the rest of Northern Ireland.

Mr Murphy said he had written to Mr Kennedy after being contacted by constituents who are unhappy with the present service available and he added that the people of Newry and south Armagh deserved a service on par with the rest of the north.

“I told the Minister that while I understand that services are dependent on demand, I would like to know if in recent times there have been any attempts by Translink to enhance this service,” said the Newry and Armagh MLA.

“Surely the citizens of Newry and south Armagh deserve a train service that is on par with other parts of the north and following on from the huge investment in the Newry Train Station it makes sense to utilise this state of the art passenger hub.”