Call for new timetable after £19m Newtownabbey railway line upgrade

Translink has been urged to improve the timetable on the Belfast to Larne railway line as a “legacy” of a £19m upgrade.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 11:01 am

The demand was made by Glengormley DUP Councillor Alison Bennington following a presentation on the ‘Dark Arches’ renewal project at a meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey’s Operations Committee on Monday.

The multi-million upgrade will involve the renewal of track in Newtownabbey between Whitehouse Park and Whiteabbey Train Station, track drainage, new cabling, refurbishment of retaining wall structures and signalling upgrades.

Preparatory work commenced in July with a weekend closure planned for October 2 and 3, and the main construction works, involving a 10-day line closure, will take place over the Christmas period. Bus substitutions will be put in place during the line closure.

Whiteabbey Train Station. (Pic Google).

Councillors heard the Whiteabbey track is part of a “key arterial route and important for the Larne and North West lines”. The development will involve just over two miles of track and 50 construction jobs.

The committee was given an assurance over noise being kept “to a minimum” and that site staff will not “rev equipment unnecessarily”.

John Fullerton, Gravis Planning, told elected representatives that Translink would be working with the Northern Regional College students to “leaving a local legacy associated with the project”.

Macedon UUP Cllr Robert Foster commented that it was “good to see a bit of progress”.

He noted that some leftover stone could repurposed and used for some features around Newtownabbey.

Cllr Bennington said a new timetable would be “a legacy with a big impact on residents, a big impact on students and a big impact on people going to the North West and the Larne line” before asking if the timetable could be “increased”.

Mr Fullerton said: “I think the rationale is different to what we are suggesting but it is something to speak to Translink about.”

He went on to say that the project is about a “modern fit for purpose” infrastructure that would “remove temporary speed restrictions”.

Oliver Watts, Translink, noted that the removal of speed restrictions is part of a wider Belfast Transport Hub strategy.

Michelle Weir Local Democracy Reporter

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