DRD draft cuts threaten Larne to Whitehead train service

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The Department for Regional Development’s (DRD) proposed budget cuts could result in the reduction of train services between Whitehead and Larne, it has been revealed.

The DRD has been ordered to make savings of £65 million. In addition to rail service reductions, the department’s draft budget paper shows that Armagh and 13 towns could have their town bus services withdrawn.

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy commented: “DRD is facing cuts of around £65million to its budget for 2015/16 and as a result there could be reductions of some £15 million in the total Departmental funding to Translink.

“A draft budget consultation document for 2015/16 is currently out for public consultation. The impacts of the reduction on my budget have not been agreed at this stage however the financial constraints are so great that there will certainly be very difficult decisions ahead.”

Other proposed cuts involve a reduction in the number of management, administrative and clerical staff. A total of 160 staff could lose their jobs, reducing the DRD’s paybill by £5.7 million. Fare increases and bus station closures are being considered.

The Unite union is launching a “Hands Off Public Transport” campaign to oppose the proposals. Unite’s Davy McMurray said the cuts would have “a hugely adverse impact on the most vulnerable sections of our society.” He described the cuts as “an attack” on older people, the disabled, families with children and those who cannot afford a car.

The draft budget is available at www.drdni.gov.uk. To respond to the consultation, email budgetconsultation@drdni.gov.uk. or write to Stewart Barnes, Budget Consultation, Financial Planning and Management Branch, Department for Regional Development, Room 4-34, Clarence Court, 10-18 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8GB. The closing date is December 29.