Lobbyists welcome increased usage of Larne railway line

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PASSENGER numbers on the Larne railway line have increased significantly in recent months, it has been revealed.

Local campaigners Larne Line Passenger Group (LLPG) – whose Use It Or Lose It petition persuaded Translink to maintain the level of service from Larne-Whitehead - were delighted to hear that passenger numbers on the line as a whole have risen by 10 per cent in the period from April to September.

The Whitehead–Downshire section saw the biggest increase of 15 per cent, while the number of passengers on the Whitehead–Larne section grew by 12 per cent.

And LLPG secretary, Elena Aceves-Cully, said these figures prove that the lobby group’s campaign “was not in vain”.

The group recently met with Translink management to discuss the proposed changes to the current timetable, which are expected to be implemented from January 2013. It was here that they learned of the rising passenger numbers, as well as other “encouraging” information.

Mrs Aceves-Cully said: “As part of the improvements contained in the new proposed timetable for the Larne line, there is a new express service departing from Great Victoria Street at 4.44pm, express to Carrickfergus and thereafter all stops to Larne Town.

“Other enhancements to the service provided on the Larne Line are the new park and ride recently opened at Jordanstown and current work on Jordanstown and Trooperslane crossings in order to minimise the amount of time they are closed.

“LLPG is confident that if the proposed new timetable is implemented, it will pave the way for increased patronage in particular in the section between Whitehead and Larne, which should help to secure its future.

“A small planned reduction in trains servicing Larne should have the positive effect of increasing loadings on existing services and hence their profitability.

“We are confident that the combination of improvements such as new trains, slightly shorter journeys, the vast majority of trains starting or terminating at Great Victoria Street, the possibility of using longer trains on the Line and new wi-fi on board will continue to bring more passengers onto the train.

“In addition, the now much wider choice of tickets which passengers can avail of to maximise their discounts – annual commuter cards, ILink cards, MLink, YLink – are proof that using public transport is much better value for money and less stressful than using the car.

“Punctuality figures on the Larne line continue to be very high, something that has a lot to owe to the new Class 4000 trains,” Mrs Aceves-Cully concluded.