Waiting times at rail halts to reduce

WAITING times at rail halts in Lurgan are to be reduced, Transport minister Danny Kennedy has confirmed to the ‘MAIL’.

Translink is to look at ways to change signalling so that, when trains pass through Lurgan, the railway gates are closed for a shorter period of time.

The Department of Regional Development Minister explained that Translink is looking at altering the signalling for trains arriving from Belfast.

It may be possible to change the signalling times to allow the gates to remain open for longer.

However, Mr Kennedy said the signalling could only be changed in one direction, for trains travelling from Belfast.

“This has been a long standing problem over many years,” said the Minister.

Mr Kennedy said he and the Chief Executive of Translink Catherine Mason had spoken to local representatives at Council and the Chamber of Commerce two weeks ago.

“Some progress has been made to improve the situation. There will still be waiting times but they will be reduced,” he said adding that it is expected to be implemented in the next few months.

Mr Kennedy said Translink had been working to find a solution to the problem.

He welcomed the move and said it should be an improved situation for travellers and the town.

Traffic congestion caused by the railway gates closing in Lurgan has been a constant irritation to locals. And traders have been critical of the traffic stagnation it causes for considerable periods of time during the working day.

The traffic in Lurgan almost comes to a standstill when the railway gates close at Bells Row, Lake Street and William Street. Tailbacks can run through the entire town centre as all comes to a halt to allow trains to stop or travel through the town.

SDLP Councillor Joe Nelson said he understood that while some improvements could be made to the signalling for trains from Belfast, it was not possible to do the same for trains coming from the Dublin direction.

“He said the express train from Dublin needs more time as it is travelling so fast.

He said changes to the electronic signalling will allow the gates in Lurgan to be open for longer.

A spokesperson for Translink said: “A plan is in place to adjust our signalling systems to reduce closure times at the level crossings in Lurgan.

“It is expected that these changes will come into effect in the current financial year.”