Waiting time worry at Lurgan train gates

CRAIGAVON councillors have voiced concern about greater waiting times at Lurgan rail halts following an ‘enhancement’ of the NI Railway timetable.

Both SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson and DUP Cllr Stephen Moutray reminded Translink of the long waits for pedestrians and through traffic in Lurgan while railway gates were closed.

Cllr Nelson said that while he welcomed Translink’s investment in 20 new trains, he said there was a need to remind the firm of their responsibilities to the area.

“The increase in frequency to the timetable could leave people waiting longer at Lurgan station,” said Cllr Nelson asking what plans the company had in relations to signalling at William Street.

Mr Moutray agreed there were issues in relation to Lurgan station.

“NI Railways are the victim of their own success,” he said, pointing out that Lurgan is the only town with a major train intersection running through it.

He added that other towns had benefited from upgrades by NIR.

“The people of Lurgan have been very patient over the years. Lurgan has a bigger populous and I would like to see Lurgan getting a fair crack of the whip,” he said.

DUP Cllr Robert Smith said that while he welcomed the 20 new trains between Portadown and Belfast he was alarmed at the parking arrangements at Portadown station.

“We need a meeting with Translink. This is going to create a serious problem,” he said. “If more and more people are going to use public transport, people are going to park there. It is a very serious matter.”

And he added that Portadown needed a proper bus station. “The congestion is causing a lot of havoc in the town.”

Deputy Mayor Arnold Hatch echoed the view that there needed to be a bus station and urged action with the Department of Regional Development in the allocation of car parking spaces.

Speaking after the meeting Sinn Féin Councillor Liam Mackle said a direct meeting between local representatives and relevant statutory bodies is essential.

He said an immediate discussion was needed to search for ways of alleviating the “growing traffic nightmare” caused by the regular and prolonged closure of the barriers at William Street and Bells Row.

“Translink have announced that they have added to their stock of trains and in their efforts to improve the numbers using public transport will be considering increased frequency of some services including the Belfast to Portadown line. While the development of the public transport system is welcome, consideration of the increase that this would cause to the problems already faced by the people of Lurgan, particularly residents of North Lurgan, has to be taken into account.”

Translink have announced the new Class 4000 fleet of 20 new trains and announced 20% additional seating capacity across the network, doubling busy commuter trains from three to six carriages.

In a letter to the Council, Translink’s General Manager revealed an enhancement to the timetable retaining a 20 minute frequency at peak times and a 30 minute frequency off peak on the Portadown line.

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