Just one train to take Newry workers to Belfast for 9am start
COMMUTERS from Newry will no longer be able to get direct trains to Belfast for a 9am start from Monday, with the introduction of new rail timetables.
Only one train will leave Newry before 8.45am each morning, and passengers will be forced to switch in Portadown after boarding the 7.15am service.
At present workers can head to Belfast on the 6.50am service, safe in the knowledge they don't run the risk of a row with the boss for arriving late.
In nearby Pontzypass, Co Armagh, commuters to Belfast will also be relying on one train each morning, also changing in Portadown, and one service after 5pm to get home in the evening.
Two direct trains leave the village each morning before 8am, but they will all be on a 7.24am train as of Monday, which also involves switching at Portadown.
In a further blow, there will no longer be a rail service from Pontzypass to Belfast at all at weekends, after Translink decided to remove the two trains currently operating on a Saturday.
Pontzypass man Ciaran McSherry, who pays over £2,000 for an annual ticket between his home and Belfast, said the new timetables put workers in a predicament.
He said: "The only people affected are regular train users who are paying train tickets. It will make you dependent on one train to get to work. What happens if there are delays?"
"There are people travelling from Lisburn and other places outside Belfast who have an excellent service and that will be maintained."
Mr McSherry added: "People from Pontzypass are not looking for a train every hour but at least two in the morning and two in the evening. They are meant to be trying to get people off the roads but is it any wonder people from the Newry area choose not to use a train?"
A spokeswoman for Translink said: "Following consultation with our passengers, one peak morning and evening commuter service will operate from Monday – Friday at 7.15am from Newry and 5.21pm from Great Victoria Street."
"Newry passengers can also use Enterprise rail services along with regular Goldline 238 coach services."
The spokeswoman added: "The changes are part of our overall plans to reduce costs due to the significant reduction in public funding in 2015/16. They come into effect following the company's largest ever public consultation earlier this year and after agreement with Trade Unions."