Dad’s plea for road safety action at Ballycarry rail bridge

Graham Ford and his Children, Ellie, Logan and Morgan try to cross the  busy road at Ballycarry Train Station. INLT 35-225-AM
Graham Ford and his Children, Ellie, Logan and Morgan try to cross the busy road at Ballycarry Train Station. INLT 35-225-AM

An Islandmagee father has spoken of his fear that his three young children could be “wiped out” at a notorious accident blackspot.

Graham Ford, whose kids all attend Mullaghdubh Primary School, has issued a plea for help to the Education Authority (EA) in a bid to protect his family from potential tragedy.

The 25-year-old lives at Causeway Villas on Island Road Lower with his wife Jane and children (aged four, five and eight), close to the bridge at Ballycarry train halt.

Concerns over road safety at the location have been voiced by residents many times over the years, with a number of pedestrians being injured by traffic while crossing the bridge.

And Graham is calling on the EA to provide transport for his children, who must cross the bridge on foot on their way to school.

He told the Larne Times: “My wife walks our children to and from school every day and it really is an accident waiting to happen.

“There are near-misses at that bridge on a daily basis, and I myself have almost been knocked down while walking there.

“I keep thinking back to that terrible accident near Cloughmills last year when a family was struck by a car on the way to school.

“I recently found out that the Education Authority can provide transport for children in some circumstances and we have asked them for help, only to be told that we don’t live far enough away from the school to qualify.”

Larne Line Rail Passenger Group has been lobbying for a footpath on the bridge, a safe crossing point, narrowing the bridge to one lane, and traffic lights. Its ultimate aim is a drop off and pick up point, park and ride facilities and a footbridge.

Graham added: “I understand TransportNI is to carry out some safety improvements at the bridge, but we need some assistance from the Education Authority until that work is completed.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Regional Development said: “TransportNI is in the advanced stages of developing a scheme to install traffic signals at Ballycarry railway bridge. This will allow a footpath to be provided across the bridge and improve access to the station.

“It is anticipated that this work will be carried out this financial year.”

Meanwhile, the Education Authority told the Times: “A pupil’s safe travel to and from school remains the responsibility of the parent or chosen responsible adult. Where eligibility for transport assistance is established then the Authority will provide transport assistance in line with the Department of Education Circular 1996/41.

“If a parent has a concern with a particular route along which they must travel to school then they should bring it to the attention of the Authority who will be happy to address the matter.”