New fears for future of Derry railway - Into the West

Paul Faith/PA Wire
Paul Faith/PA Wire
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Derry based rail lobby group Into the West says planned cuts at the city’s Waterside station does not “give much cause for optimism about the security of our rail service into the future.”

A spokesman for the pressure group says online fare promotions are to be withdrawn today (February 29).

“The apparent reason is that these offers can only be applied to a station which is fully staffed - and recent cut-backs mean that this will no longer be the position at the Waterside,” the spokesman says.

“This is an ominous development. If NIR doesn’t withdraw the proposed changes, the Minister for Regional Development must intervene. It seems that every time our last remaining rail-link appears to have been secured, there is a new threat.”

The group also says that the booking office will be closed from 2.00 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays and all day on Sundays and that NIR has plans to operate the office in future with only one member of staff.

“This could mean it opening only from Monday to Friday, closing at 2.00pm every day,” the spokesman added.

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“Our information is that booking staff numbers are set to be cut from four to two on February 29, with a possible further cut to just one next month, with the two existing staff being asked to attend a selection interview in March.

“What would happen if the one remaining member of staff was off on leave or because of sickness? Will the office simply be closed?

“This chopping of staff doesn’t give much cause for optimism about the security of our rail service into the future.”

“If that isn’t forthcoming, there must be a statement in the Assembly from the Regional Development Minister. There seems to be a disconnection between assurances that there is no threat to the line and what is actually happening on the ground.

“We need this cleared up without further ado.”

A Translink spokeswoman confirmed staffing changes are to be implemented at Waterside.

“The staffing changes being made in the ticket office at Waterside Station are part of the roll out of the same efficiency measures introduced earlier this year.

“As a result the ticket office opening hours will be changing over the coming weeks.

“The station will continue to be manned every day by station staff from 6.30am until 5.30pm for passengers to buy tickets and get information,” she says.