BY JAYNE MCCORMACK
Coleraine councillors were told of the huge transformation to the North Coast’s railway system at their meeting on Tuesday, 19 February.
Mal McGreevy, general manager of rail services at Translink, said that there had been a 70% increase in the number of trains operating between Belfast to Coleraine and Coleraine to Belfast.
He told councillors that Translink was “very grateful to Coleraine” and that the new timetable, which came into effect on 6 January 2013, meant that there were now 19 trains operating to Coleraine every weekday, with 16 operating on Saturdays and at least 7 on Sundays – a huge boost for the town’s transport.
Councillors were also pleased to hear that passenger numbers were up 10-15% from last year.
Mr McGreevy spoke about the re-opening of part of the Derry/Londonderry line, which has undergone a “major refurbishment” and confirmed that the line would be accessible again from Saturday, 24 March, a week ahead of schedule.
He said the first morning train would arrive in Derry/Londonderry at 8.25am on Monday, 25 March and added, “There has never been a train arriving in Derry/Londonderry before 9am before.”
Cllr David Harding was the first to commend Translink for their efforts. He said, “The people of Castlerock are excited, and people out there have missed the line badly.”
Cllr David McClarty said, “Not too long ago we were predicting the demise of railway in Northern Ireland and now it has been totally resurrected.”
Another issue high on the agenda was the 2013 Somme Association pilgrimage to the Somme, France from 28 June to 2 July.
The pilgrimage will mark the 97th anniversary of the battle, and councillors debated over who should attend. They agreed to send Cllr Gerry McLaughlin, whose father fought in the Somme, and the outgoing Mayor, Samuel Cole.
The council normally sends the incoming mayor and a councillor to the pilgrimage, but Mr McClarty proposed an amendment, arguing that, “The incoming mayor is a busy person” and that outgoing Mayor Cole should attend because he was too busy to attend as incoming mayor in 2012.
All councillors voted in favour of the amendment, and Cllr Yvonne Boyle said it would be a “wonderful” opportunity for Mr McLaughlin.
The council also considered proposals for a 24-month pilot project to deliver a free, public Wi-Fi service on Portrush beaches.
When asked by Cllr Barbour if he envisaged people using their computers on the beach, Alan Jeffers, Regeneration Manager of the Portrush Regeneration programme, said that computers and Wi-Fi provisions are “very much a part of the new generation.”
For more information about Coleraine Borough Council, visit their website.