Translink have said they are committed to the future of rail services for the North West following claims there are no plans to increase the frequency of weekday services on the Derry line when the new station opens next year.
Jim McBride, founding member of the lobby group Into the West, said they raised issues of concern at a meeting to discuss community infrastructure at the new station.
The meeting in Derry on Wednesday was attended by Translink, the Department of Infrastructure and various stakeholders, with presentations delivered on the plans for community space that is inclusive and accessible to all within the new station.
Translink said yesterday that they have invested almost £74m in developing the Derry railway infrastructure to date.
Mr McBride, however, said that questions remain to be answered about how the new station will be utilised and staffed, and said that there were plans to introduce more frequent services on Sundays but not on other days.
He claimed: “The station will be completed in terms of the new track and signalling by the end of October. They are going to bring part of it into use but the station itself won’t be ready for the next six months and opens in the summer of 2020. So until then, you will use the platforms at the new station and the facilities at the old station.
“We discussed whether there would be any improvements in timetables and services once it becomes operational and we were told no, there would no changes to the timetable. Translink should be using a bit more imagination. £27m and there will not be one extra train a day. There will be no change to the timetable and we are not really happy about this response. We welcome the investment, but how is that going to benefit passengers?”
He added: “We also discussed the poor connectivity to Dublin, the fact that you can’t get to Dublin by train before 12.40pm Monday to Saturday, which is really not acceptable to anybody. We suggested they have a train at 5.38am to connect with Belfast to get to Dublin at 10am. We urged them to try it.
“In this day and age, you can’t buy an online ticket for any station on the Derry line. You can buy a Derry-Dublin bus ticket with Translink for as little as £11 return. Turn up to the train station and it’s £45 return.”
A spokesperson for Translink responded: “Translink has invested nearly £74m on significant upgrades on the rail network and associated infrastructure to the North West in recent years and implemented hourly train services between Belfast and Derry~Londonderry two years ago. We are committed to the future of train services in the North-West and we keep all services under review.
“The new train station in Derry-Londonderry, including platforms and passenger facilities, will open later this year. The wider North-West Multi-Modal Transport Hub project will complete.
“Websaver fares are available for redemption at a number of our train stations, where staff are on hand to process them. We are rolling-out Translink’s Future Ticketing System (TFTS) across Metro, Ulsterbus and NI Railways services which will provide improved integrated ticketing options for passengers.”