Ford hits out at delay in railway decision

THE Alliance Party’s acting Chief Whip has called on Northern Ireland Railways to release its decision on the reinstatement of the Antrim to Whiteabbey railway line.

Councillor David Ford, who is a shadow Assembly member for South Antrim, said the NIR decision on the Bleach-Green line was “long overdue”.

However, the Alliance Party’s former General Secretary believes that NIR will not proceed with the new scheme until early next year.

The call from Mr. Ford comes after the Government’s recent announcement of a major cash injection for public transport in Northern Ireland.

“The Bleach Green line is a vital part of the railway system in Northern Ireland. It is essential to speeding journey times from stations north of antrim into Belfast,” he said.

“But the railway line is also needed to provide commuter services from areas like Templepatrick as well as to relieve the increasing traffic congestion in a place like Whiteabbey.

“If NIR don’t proceed with the Bleach Green line, then the full benefits of all other recent developments at Central Station and the cross harbour link will not be realised. I think it would also make an a mockery of the government’s claim to support our public transport system.

“I understand that Translink prepared a detailed business plan showing the value of this investment, but the DoE has refused to proceed with the scheme.

“The people of North Belfast, Whiteabbey and Antrim are being denied the rail link solely because of the Chancellors’ economic policy.

“I received great support from people who are determined to see the Bleach-Green line open again and I would call on NIR and the government to address this problem immediately,” he said.

The shadow Assemblyman, who has consistently called for the re-opening of the line, also said that he will be seeking a meeting with NIR chiefs to discuss the issue.

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