Rail crossing issue under the spotlight

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MEMBERS of Stormont’s regional development committee are to visit Lurgan to investigate issues surrounding the train station.

Among these issues will be the pressing need to resolve problems associated with the regular and prolonged closure of the gates William Street, Lake Street and the Antrim Road.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly welcomed the announcement, saying that she will highlight the negative effect congesting in these areas has on Lurgan businesses.

“Although no date has been set – and I hope that will be rectified soon – I am glad that the DRD committee will be looking into the issues at Lurgan and Portadown stations,” she said.

“Portadown station has significant access problems, while operations at Lurgan station impact adversely on the area surrounding its William Street site, with railway gates closing regularly and often for long periods of time to allow up to three trains to pass at a time.

“The traffic congestion arising from this is significant.

“This has a serious effect on local business and as my office is located in that area, I see that effect all too clearly every week.

“I look forward to raising these issues with the committee when they visit.”

Charles Gardiner, chair of Lurgan Chamber of Trade, will also be attending the meeting.

“Chamber has been making strong representations and has met with the minister on two occasions,” he said.

“We are lobbying strongly on the issue through our MLAs, and we have received cross party support.”

He continued: “Lurgan is definitely the only town in the UK, and possibly the only town in Europe, where the main arterial route is dissected by a railway crossing every five or ten minutes.

“The constant lobbying over the railway station and Millennium Way has brought this issue firmly to the forefront.

“A united business community, supported by the greater community, can have tremendous influence on the future of the town.

“Ultimately a town centre dies without people, and a community greatly suffers without a town centre.

“The people of Lurgan deserve this issue to be resolved.”