EAST Antrim MLA Roy Beggs Jnr has raised concerns at Stormont over speed restriction on the Larne railway line.
The Ulster Unionist representative said he has learned through Assembly questions that two speed restrictions currently apply to the line - one at Glynn where there is a 40mph restriction due to the condition of the track, and another at Cloghan Point, where because of a slip in the cutting there is a restriction of 30mph.
At the regional development committee at Stormont, Mr Beggs raised the issue of European funding for the line, given its status as a core part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).
He asked Transport Minister Danny Kennedy: “You indicated that you are applying for European funding for the Coleraine to Londonderry line and Portadown station. What is the position with the Larne line? My reason for querying that is that it appears to be in the core network proposal. Can you verify that? It is certainly on the eastern seaboard corridor.
“There is concern about some aspects of the service there, and one issue that I picked up recently is that there are two speed restrictions on that line. If it is recognised as an important line, why will we have to wait for over a year for those issues to be addressed?”
Mr Kennedy replied that the Larne line was “clearly on the core network” and said: “There are issues with how it operates, as there are with how the entire railway system in Northern Ireland operates.
“I know that Translink has been looking at some of the services in the area, and you will be aware that there has been quite a strong lobby, which you and others have helped to lead, to retain the line and, in particular, encourage more usage. I will check with Translink whether it is aware of any problems with time delays or slowness, and we will come back to you directly on that.”
Speaking later Mr Beggs said: “Confirmation that the Larne railway line is part of the TEN-T core network is welcome in that it qualifies for European funding. It is another argument against diminution of services anywhere on the line and a further reason for us to campaign to protect what services we have on the line north of Whitehead. I also am asking Translink to show more urgency in carrying out the work which will enable the speed restrictions at Glynn and Cloghan Point to be lifted so that customers will get a faster and more efficient service in future.”