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New Dublin rail timetable drops contentious changes

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 25/03/2016

Translink chief executive Chris Conway
Translink chief executive Chris Conway

A new cross-border rail timetable will come into force next month - but without controversial changes which would have meant longer journey times.

The Belfast Telegraph reported in December that travellers' journeys could increase by 11 minutes. Translink later backed down and admitted the new schedule was unworkable.

Now the operator has confirmed its new timetable will see the early morning journey completed in two hours, 15 minutes, the same as before.

The first Enterprise service will depart Belfast at 6.45am, arriving at Dublin Connolly at 9am, from Monday to Saturday.

The last train will leave Belfast at 8.05pm.

It had been departing Belfast at 9.15pm, although this was only a temporary measure during the Enterprise upgrade programme.

The new Enterprise timetable will be introduced from April 10.

It follows consultations with customers and stakeholders on controversial proposals put forward with Irish Rail in December.

An earlier 6.15am Belfast departure time had been due to begin at the end of January. But it would not have reached Connolly until 8.41am.

It would have meant a journey time of two hours and 26 minutes - 11 minutes longer. Translink chief executive Chris Conway said: "We have taken the feedback from the consultation exercise on board and in our passengers' interests protected journey times and frequency.

"In addition, this new timetable is more resilient while also facilitating the essential track improvement work currently ongoing between Knockmore and Lurgan.

"All Enterprise services will be operated by our newly refurbished trains - this is great news for our customers."

Mr Conway said Translink had received excellent feedback on its new trains. "We are pleased we can now offer our customers a consistent level of high quality regardless of which train you travel on, giving our customers more choice, flexibility and confidence in the service," he added.

"We have worked closely with our partners in Irish Rail to develop this new timetable in order to safeguard the journey times and frequency of service for Enterprise passengers.

"We are also continuing to explore opportunities with Irish Rail for further enhancements to the Enterprise timetable."

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that bus and rail fares will not increase this year.

Fares have been frozen due to low fuel costs and to try and grow the number of people using bus and rail services.

Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen said Translink had experienced less growth on rail and bus services than it expected in the last year.

She added: "When this is combined with a difficult economic climate and relatively cheap fuel costs, a fare increase at this time would only deter people from using public transport.

"Following discussions with Translink, I have decided that there will be no fare increase this year."

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