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Transport NI rolling dice on ice: MLA

By Cate McCurry

Published 15/01/2016

Snow falls on the Shanes Hill Road near Larne yesterday
Snow falls on the Shanes Hill Road near Larne yesterday

An MLA accused Transport NI of failing to grit parts of north Belfast and Newtownabbey after bus services were re-routed because of poor road conditions.

A number of Metro services were hit by delays after a sharp drop in temperatures yesterday.

Passengers using Translink buses in Blackrock, Wolfhill and Silverstream were told services were closed "due to black ice".

Ukip MLA David McNarry claimed the affected roads "were not gritted properly, if at all".

However, the Department of Regional Development (DRD) insisted the roads were treated.

Despite that, Mr McNarry said it was "unacceptable" that buses were unable to reach parts of Belfast. "People are fed up with action after the event - it is always too late," he added. "Road users were put at the mercy of DRD throwing the dice on ice.

"This is just further evidence of petty money-saving, which doesn't wash with the public. How much longer are road users to be put at risk by the ineffectiveness of DRD policies?"

Translink detailed on Twitter the routes that had been affected by black ice. It said 11A services would not serve Silverstream and advised passengers to go to Ballysillan Road instead. Also affected was the 1F Antrim Road route, which went a shorter distance than normal and did not serve Blackrock.

Passengers on the 57 Metro service were told that it would only go as far as Mountainhill and that Wolfhill was off-limits.

Two of the affected routes had returned to normal operation by around 11.15am.

Road gritters were in operation again last night after the Met Office issued a yellow warning for snow and ice. Experts predicted there could be 1-4cm of snow at lower levels and 5-10cm on land above 150m, especially over northern areas.

One weather forecaster said: "A cold, showery north to north-westerly airstream will cover Northern Ireland. The showers are expected to fall as sleet or snow.

"Shower activity will be enhanced at times by troughs of low pressure, which could allow several centimetres of snow to settle in a fairly short period."

Icy stretches are also likely to form on untreated surfaces, leaving motorists well advised to prepare for difficult driving conditions amid the risk of widespread travel disruption.

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