Green light for new bridge in Co Antrim over Belfast - Londonderry railway line
A planning application for a new railway bridge at the former Muckamore halt outside Antrim has been approved.
The proposal was given the green light at a recent meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Planning Committee.
Construction is planned over the existing Belfast to Londonderry railway line to replace two manually operated level crossings at Belfast Road.
One of the crossings serves four residential properties, horse stables, a commercial yard and farm land.
Translink says this crossing is “unique to the NIR network”. At this location, there have been six “near miss incidents” and 156 “open gate incidents” recorded since the barriers were commissioned in 2007.
“The combination of miniature stop lights and user-operated barriers appears to be causing confusion amongst users as this solution allows the barriers to raise on a red light,” a report to councillors says.
“A second crossing serves NI Water Works to the south of the Belfast Road. The crossing is locked off by gates and vehicle crossing is completed using the fixed telephone.
“Translink believe that the proposed development will avoid the potential for fatal accidents for both adjacent landowners and railway workers,” the report states.
“In addition, the bridge will limit the damage to NI Railways property and disruption to the public transport services.”
Translink states there is “a clear need for the proposed development on safety grounds”.
“The proposed development comprises the construction of a new bridge over the existing railway line and associated access lanes on each side of the railway line,” the report continues.
The proposed access road will be from Belfast Road.
Translink has also indicated the construction of the bridge and embankment will see the removal of all level crossing infrastructure and alarms which is “likely to reduce the noise levels around the residential properties”.
Translink further states the user-operated barriers are causing confusion amongst users as it is possible for the barriers to raise while a red light is showing.
“As a result of safety concerns, Translink are seeking an alternative solution to this problem. The applicant considers this proposal to be the best solution going forward to improve safety for road and rail users using the respective routes and is likely to create a much safer access arrangement for the affected properties and cannot be reasonably obtained from any adjacent minor road.”
In a further comment after the meeting, a spokesperson for Translink said:
“Translink has received planning permission from Antrim and Newtownabbey Council to construct a new bridge, replacing two user-worked crossings on the railway line in the Muckamore area.
“Safety is top priority for Translink and this new bridge is part of an ongoing review to enhance and maintain high safety standards on the rail network and provide better access for those local residents and services to cross the railway line.”