Rail brief tendered to Translink

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COUNCILLORS are consulting with Translink and Larne Harbour in a bid to make greater use of the rail link with Belfast.

Representatives want to see commercial freight increased on the Larne Line, along with a push to encourage more passengers to use the modern C4000 trains.

Resolutions covering these themes were adopted by the Council, acting on correspondence from the Larne Line Passenger Group, who warned that services on the Larne-Whitehead section of the line are under threat unless passenger numbers increase.

While Cllr Roy Craig believed the railway company should do more to promote the local service, Cllr Gregg McKeen cautioned against prioritising rail at the expense of the bus service, which was crucial in areas not close to stations.

Cllr John Mathews revealed that the NI local government association was to set up a working group to examine rail provision, while Mayor Cllr Gerardine Mulvenna suggested collaboration between rail, bus and ferry operators to complement and enhance each service.

Cllr Bobby McKee urged that NI Railways and Larne Harbour Co be asked for an update on platform extensions to accommodate commercial freight, while Ald Roy Beggs called for progress on provision of a park-and-ride facility at Ballycarry.

Cllr Brian Dunn argued for a half-hourly train service at Larne, while Ald Winston Fulton reckoned Translink would find it difficult to persuade people that rail travel is cheaper than by car.

The council’s director of development, Linda McCullough, revealed she had recently updated Translink management on the Gobbins tourism project and they were keen to increase the frequency of trains and possibly provide a shuttle service between Whitehead and the Gobbins visitor centre.