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Minister Hazzard puts the brakes on airport rail link

By Noel McAdam

New rail links between Belfast city centre and the International airport have been spurned by Transport Minister Chris Hazzard.

The Infrastructure Minister told the Assembly his focus would instead be on improving bus links for at least the next 14 years.

The Sinn Fein Minister argued it will be 2030 before a railway link from the city to the airport near Antrim would be viable.

While admitting such a transport connection has “obvious merits” he said the numbers of passengers using the airport falls well short of the 10m needed to make the service effective.

There are around 4.4m users at present and building up to the level required will take another 14 years, he said, revealing the cost has been estimated at between £50 and £100m.

Nevertheless MLAs backed a DUP motion urging the Minister to “investigate all options” including the re-introduction of the Lisburn to Antrim railway.

“This Assembly expresses its concern at the lack of competitiveness and availability of rail services between Belfast city centre and Belfast International Airport,” it said.

Opening the debate, the DUP’s Paul Girvan said: “If you build it, they will come.

“Villages and towns along the route, such as Crumlin, Glenavy and Ballinderry, have all grown dramatically.”

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