Concern over impact of rail timetable changes on Larne line

Concerns have been raised over changes to the rail timetable, including along the Larne line, announced earlier this week by Translink.

The revisions were in response to reduced passenger numbers, according to Translink.

The transport body said the revisions, which came into effect on January 10, were in response to reduced passenger numbers following the NI Executive regulations and guidance on essential travel.

Ian Campbell, Translink Director of Service Operations commented: “The revised timetables allow us to maintain service levels, prioritising school and peak time services and ensuring overall geographic coverage of the network is retained to enable people to continue to travel safely.

“We continue to make our network and services safe with the use of extensive cleaning and sanitising of our vehicles and stations using anti-viral products; putting a wide range of customer communications in place; as well as ensuring our services are well ventilated.

Roy Beggs MLA.

“We would remind everyone that you must, by law, wear a face covering on public transport. The NI Executive recently announced changes to the regulations regarding exemptions and it will be important for everyone to familiarise themselves with changes to the legislation.

“We also encourage everyone to practice good hand hygiene, keep windows open where possible on board, socially distance when possible and use contactless payments to minimise interaction, so together, we can keep everyone safe and limit the spread of the virus.

“Customers should familiarise themselves with the latest changes to their specific services in case they need to adapt their usual travel plans. For the latest timetable updates visit the website or call the contact centre on 028 90 66 66 30.”

Changes 'affect students and those travelling to work'

However, East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said he had written to Translink to outline his concern that the new timetable means the frequency of trains travelling to Larne Harbour has been reduced during peak periods.

“I have been contacted by a number of local residents in relation to the new timetable," Mr Beggs said. "A number of my constituents use the train to get to school in Larne. I am advised that previously there was a half hourly service from Lanyon Place to Larne Harbour which facilitated school children getting to school before 9am. With the usual school train now stopping at Whitehead and then returning to Belfast, school children face either being in Larne too early for school (8:20am) or too late (9:20am) via the Larne Line train service.

"This change to the timetable also affects youths travelling along the Larne Line between Belfast and Larne Harbour who attend the Northern Regional College, local East Antrim schools, and students at Ulster University, Jordanstown.

"Furthermore, residents who live past Whitehead in areas such as Islandmagee have contacted me to outline their concern at potentially having to now get a taxi to travel to work in Larne, due to the reduction in frequency at peak times into the town and on weekends.”

Mr Beggs, who is a member of the Assembly Infrastructure Committee added: “I have asked Translink to reconsider this move in order to allow my constituents to get to their education on time and for local residents to get to work via the train in a prompt manner.”