Translink start new hourly train service to Londonderry

Train departing Derry Image copyright Translink
Image caption Lobby groups say the new service is 'good for business'

A new hourly train service between Londonderry and Belfast has started.

The first train departed at 06:12 BST on Monday and the last train will arrive just before midnight.

The new timetable was introduced after Translink spent £46.4m on a new passing loop, and signalling infrastructure, on the Coleraine-to-Derry line.

The service between the two cities will remain unchanged on a Sunday, with just six trains.

"We are pleased to be introducing this new hourly timetable, making it more convenient and attractive for passengers to travel to and from Derry-Londonderry, connecting people and supporting the local economy, attracting visitors and investment," said Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway.

"This significant timetable improvement will mean more choices for passengers travelling between NI's two main cities and along the route."

Translink believes that the enhanced train timetable, together with existing bus services, will strengthen links between the North West and Belfast.

Martin Melaugh from the transport lobby group Into The West welcomed the news, with one or two caveats.

"It's good for commuters, tourists, business but unfortunately we can only award Translink six marks out of seven because we are only getting the hourly service Monday to Saturday," Mr Melaugh told the BBC.

"If you're travelling between Belfast and Portrush you'll have 13 trains to choose from on a Sunday but if you're travelling between Coleraine and Derry there's only six trains, we don't think that's fair."

Passengers travelling from Derry to Dublin will still face a delay when they arrive into Belfast, as the new service misses the Enterprise connection by about 15 minutes.

Translink have said they will continue to talk with key stakeholders about how to improve the rail network.

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