Northern Ireland

Translink railway consultation: Unite union considers industrial action

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Media captionTranslink said the consultation was part of its strategy to 'address funding challenges', as Julian O'Neill reports

A union is considering industrial action over a Translink consultation on railway changes.

Translink is "inviting the public to tell them how they use local NI Railways services to help plan network changes to be introduced this summer".

It focuses on early morning, evening and Saturday services on the Bangor-Portadown, Newry and Larne lines.

Unite said it was a "rubber-stamping exercise designed to provide political cover for damaging austerity cuts".

'Fig leaf'

The union's Davy McMurray said there were "no clear proposals" in Translink's questionnaire for passengers.

"The public information meetings have not been publicly advertised and are timed to exclude the public; for example that (the meeting) in Portadown runs from 7.30am-10am," he said.

"What's worse is that many towns which will be affected by cuts such as Lisburn, Newry and Whitehead have no planned information events at all."

Mr McMurray said it was a "bogus consultation exercise geared to providing a fig leaf for their preordained but undisclosed cuts to bus and rail services".

He said Unite representatives at Translink would meet early next week "to agree an industrial action strategy with the aim of protecting our members' jobs and defending the integrity of Northern Ireland's public transport system".

'Funding challenges'

Translink marketing executive Ciaran Rogan said the consultation was "part of our overall strategy to address current funding challenges".

"An Ulsterbus services consultation is already under way and last week we also launched a voluntary exit scheme that will cut our management, overhead and administration costs by £3.1m annually," he said.

"The information we get from passengers will be very important to us; we want to continue to offer accessible and good value services where customers need them while ensuring we remain efficient and sustainable for the future."

He added: "It is extremely important that our customers participate in this process and contribute to shaping the future of our local train services."

Translink is holding a series of public meetings as part of its consultation that runs until 1 May:

  • Portadown Train Station: 13 April 07:30 - 10:00 BST
  • Carrickfergus Railway Station: 16 April 10:00 - 12:30 BST
  • Larne Train Station: 16 April 14:00 - 16:30 BST
  • Belfast Central Station and Great Victoria Street Station: 21 April 16:00 - 18:30 BST

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