Translink Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) has experienced further passenger growth during 2017 with the Belfast to Derry/Londonderry ‘Atlantic Coast’ line achieving an 8.5 per cent increase.
The section of railway between Coleraine and Derry/Londonderry has recorded a
massive 37 per cent growth since hourly services were introduced in July 2017.
The resignalling of the Coleraine and Derry/Londonderry route was completed in November 2016 and included a new passing loop at the relocated Bellarena station, 10 miles east of Derry/Londonderry. This now permits the much-needed operation of an hourly service on the line.
The greatly enhanced service is expected to be a catalyst for improved economic
growth in the North West.
Other routes in Northern Ireland have also experienced exceptional growth in the same
period with the Belfast to Bangor line recording passenger numbers up by 5.6 per cent; Belfast to Portadown up by 5.5 per cent and the line between Belfast and Larne seeing growth of 5.1 per cent since July 2017.
NIR has experienced unprecedented passenger growth with numbers having doubled since 2004 following various route upgrades and the introduction of the modern and more reliable CAF DMUs.
Growth on the Derry/Londonderry route has caused its own problems with the 1980’s
terminal station at Derry/Londonderry Waterside becoming inadequate to deal with
increased passenger use.
In January 2017, an announcement was made by Translink that they had purchased the former 1873 built Belfast & Northern Counties Railway Londonderry Waterside Station, a listed building designed by John Lanyon, for development as the city’s new £26 million multi-modal transport hub.
This project is currently being criticised by pressure group ‘Into the West’ as the design for the new station doesn’t include trains entering the former terminal building, but with an option for a platform located beyond the building, whilst the former train shed is utilised for retail outlets.
Report by Tim Casterton