Belfast Telegraph

Lord Adonis blasts Dublin to Belfast 'infrequent snail' train service

A former Government Transport Minister has blasted Northern Ireland's train service.

Lord Andrew Adonis is visiting Ireland for a series of meetings on Brexit.

After going to Dublin's Connolly Station at 9:30am on Monday to get the train to Belfast, Lord Adonis said he was aghast to discover there was no service until 11:20am.

Speaking on Twitter he said that the service should be called the "Infrequent snail" instead of the "Enterprise".

Lord Adonis served as Secretary of State for Transport in Gordon Brown's Labour government between 2009 and 2010.

In the role he oversaw plans for a high-speed railway line between London and Birmingham.

He described his shock at the quality of train service on offer between Dublin and Belfast.

"Trains go every two hours, 100miles in distance and take two hours and twenty minutes. I simply couldn't believe it," Lord Adonis told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster. 

"I'm a newcomer to the trains in Ireland but to be quite frank I was shocked at how bad the service was.

"It is cheap but having a low fare and a terrible service isn't a great equilibrium. You want good value fares, but you want a decent service."

Lord Adonis said that the poor service was having an economic impact.

"It's very clear to me that having a rail service and connectivity between these two great cities that is so bad can only do a huge amount of economic harm to Ireland." he said.

"It needs to be sorted out, in England we have a service every twenty minutes between London and Birmingham.

"If I was a business leader in Belfast thinking about the economic future I would be putting this at the top of the agenda."

The Labour peer said that current plans to upgrade Northern Ireland's rail service lacked substance.

"There are some aspirations there but there are no plans, aspirations without a plan and without political leadership," Lord Adonis said.

"It is not clear to me where the leadership is going to come from to do that here.

"This is a totally unsatisfactory position."

In response to the criticism Translink said that they had "ambitious" development plans with southern partner Iarnród Éireann.

However, they admitted that the plans were dependent on securing additional funding in future.

"The strategy sets out a road map of how both companies jointly plan to further enhance the service on this important north/south rail corridor," a Translink spokesperson said.

"It envisages the introduction of new fleet to allow for an hourly frequency between the two cities and the ambition to reduce the average journey time to less than two hours within five years."

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