Translink pledges to 'protect coastal section' in Mid & East Antrim
Translink has moved to reassure councillors over the future of the Larne to Belfast railway line.
In a letter to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the transport operator says that it wishes to see the “ongoing development of the line to Larne and will continue to maintain and protect the infrastructure on the coastal section”.
Concern has been expressed by elected representatives that the borough is “not joined up together” with bus and rail services “competing against each other” and the service between Larne and Whitehead, which has been reduced previously, highlighted.
The letter said: “In relation to connectivity on the Belfast to Larne rail line, we seek to maximise frequency and therefore train set utilisation on the most heavily used part of the service between Whitehead and Belfast.”
It also stated:
“Developing new rail links are longterm projects involving substantial amounts of capital. A direct rail link from Ballymena to Carrickfergus or Larne would definitely be something that would be considered a long-term project and in the medium term, we would not see a way to avoid interchange in Belfast.
“We do have plans looking at the development of the Belfast to Derry/Londonderry rail line and this may see speed and reliability improvements on the Ballymena to Belfast part of the journey.”
Translink has stated previously that it is “looking at increased capacity and frequency of trains” on this line with an upgrade of the level crossing at Cullybackey commissioned by December 2023.
Councillors were also told: “In addition to the train service, Translink also provides bus connection between the main towns. The 130 Larne to Ballymena service, the 154 Larne to Antrim, 120/218 Antrim to Ballymena and the 168b/154 Carrickfergus to Antrim.
Commenting on Translink’s response, Knockagh Ulster Unionist Councillor Andrew Wilson said:
“Ultimately actions will speak louder than words in relation to the ongoing commitment to the route.
“For a service to be adequately utilised as Translink state in their reply, the capacity needs to be in place in the first instance. I note that following the issue being raised at a previous Council meeting, the service on the Whitehead to Larne Harbour was returned to previous levels and I hope the service stays at this level.”