The new ‘Christmas Special’ service means that the last train travelling back to Derry from Belfast will leave Great Victoria Street at 10:40pm on Friday and Saturday nights over the next two weekends – 90 minutes later than the usual timetable. And the last service to leave Derry on the same weekends will be at 11:30pm (travelling only as far as Coleraine) – almost 2 hours later than the usual last train.
Lobby group Into the West, which has long campaigned for later rail services between Derry and Belfast, have welcomed the festive changes.
Chair Steve Bradley said: “We’ve been calling for later trains on the Derry-Belfast line for years and we were grateful when Translink listened to our request for a later service on Halloween night. That enabled people to remain in Derry for the fireworks and, then, catch the train as far as Coleraine afterwards. We were delighted to see that it was well used.
“We hope people will, likewise, take advantage of the special late night trains over the next two Friday and Saturday nights as it will strengthen the argument that later train services should be for life and not just for Christmas.”
Into The West is also calling on Translink to do more to spread the word about these later Christmas services. “It’s great to have later trains, but Translink needs to do more to tell people about them,” said Steve Bradley.
The late night Christmas trains will leave Belfast for Derry at 10:40pm on Fridays, December 10 and 17 and Saturdays 11 and 18, with a short change at Coleraine. The last service leaving Derry on the same dates will be at 11:30pm, calling at Bellarena, Castlerock and Coleraine.
There will then be a temporary closure on the rail line between Belfast and Antrim from Monday, December 27 until Monday, January 3 to enable work to be carried out.
Trains will still run as normal between Derry and Antrim across that period, with a bus replacement service between Antrim and Belfast.