Northern Ireland

Work to resume on rail line after staff threatened at gunpoint in Lurgan

Three petrol bombs were also thrown at a railway crossing in the Lake Street area last August. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Three petrol bombs were also thrown at a railway crossing in the Lake Street area last August. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Three petrol bombs were also thrown at a railway crossing in the Lake Street area last August. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

ENGINEERING work is due to resume today on the main Belfast to Dublin rail line after being suspended when staff were threatened at gunpoint in Lurgan.

A group of employees were carrying out work on the track on Saturday when they were approached by a man believed to be armed with a firearm.

Police said the workers were threatened shortly after 11am before the man made off.

Translink said the work, part of an £11.9m investment to upgrade the line, was "suspended for the safety and welfare of the engineers involved".

"We are currently liaising with the PSNI who are investigating this incident.

"We have consulted widely with the local community and local stakeholders who have been very supportive, recognising the need and associated benefits, longer term, which this important scheme will provide for the local area.

"We hope to resume these works to ensure we have the line reopened and passenger services back in place for Monday as planned."

There have been a series of attacks on the rail line in the Lake Street area in recent years.

Three petrol bombs were thrown at a crossing last August. Police said at the time that youths were seen throwing the devices onto the track as well as placing another into the pump house.

They also said they believed dissident republicans were instructing young people to carry out attacks.

More than 100 petrol bombs were thrown at police at the same site in January 2016.

SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly called on those responsible to withdraw the weekend threat.

"The people who did this are absolutely despicable, they have tarred the name of the good people of north Lurgan."

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart also said: "The people of the area will not allow this small nucleus of people to drag Lurgan back to the dark days".

Sinn Féin councillor Keith Haughian said: "The company doing the work to the lines have agreed to carry out significant work to a local GAA club free of charge and this is how these people repay the firm’s workers.

"It is long past time these individuals wised up and got off the backs of the people of north Lurgan."