News

Almost 70 per cent of Derry trains delayed during one November week

The Derry train making its way under the Peace Bridge to the station at Waterside. Last month in one week almost 70 per cent of trains into the city were delayed. Picture by Margaret McLauglin

ALMOST 70 per cent of all trains into Derry were delayed during a chaotic week in November last year.

Of the 64 train services into Derry between November 21 and 27, 44 arrived late.

Of this number, two thirds (29) were delayed more than 10 minutes.

A number of "system issues" were also reported, most notably on November 28, December 1 and December 7 after the second phase of major engineering works on the Derry to Coleraine railway line was completed.

Work has been ongoing since June 2015 and from November 3 through to November 20 2016 portions of the line were closed while the project to complete re-signalling works and a passing loop took place.

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard, who released the figures following an Assembly question from People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann said the delays were "clearly unacceptable".

"I understand that there has been an improvement since that week, but with particular problems on 1 and 7 December. I have asked that this is monitored closely," he said.

Mr McCann said there was a "deep frustration" in Derry at the delays, given the work carried out to upgrade the network.

"Now we've got the upgrade the difficulties apparently are greater than ever. This makes no sense and no adequate explanation has been supplied for it," he said.

Mr McCann said the potential growth of rail travel was being stunted due to "inexplicable decisions" from Translink.

"Travelling by train used to make sense. It used to be the great attraction of trains was that it would be on time, that when there were travel snarl-ups it would not apply to rail, but we've lost those advantages.

"We still have not got an adequate railway line or a railway station appropriate to a regional capital," he added.

In response Translink accepted there were a "number of delays" on the railway line between Derry and Coleraine after it re-opened on November 21, due to "bedding in issues with the complex new signalling works", but noted service improvements last week.

“We understand our passengers’ frustration and disappointment with the initial level of service on the line after it re-opened and we apologise for the disruption," a spokesman said.

“When completed, this upgrade work will allow for a more resilient rail service for the North West into the future. We continue to monitor services on the line and have contingency measures in place to minimise overall disruption," they added.

The Department for Infrastructure has previously said the project would be "substantially complete" by the end of 2016.

Last year the Irish News revealed how passengers on the Enterprise train service between Belfast and Dublin suffered more than 1,700 delays in the past year.

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