Moira Station parking fines put off train-users

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Cars parked on Station Road, Moira
Image caption,
Cars regularly line the road between the station and Moira village as the station car park fills up fast

Commuters have been "put off" using public transport after dozens of drivers were given parking tickets outside Moira train station.

Police have ticketed cars parked partly on the pavement in Station Road on at least three occasions.

But passengers have said they have no choice because the station car park is full by 08:00 GMT each day and a new park and ride has been delayed.

Translink said the project remained a "priority".

Cars are regularly parked in Station Road - which runs between the station and Moira village in County Down - after the main car park and overflow car park fill up.

On 11 October, dozens of drivers returned from the train to find they had been issued with fixed penalty notices by police.

Tickets were issued again on 30 October and 14 November.

Commuters have said they have nowhere else to park, but many pedestrians and cyclists have said they are unable to get past the parked cars.

The PSNI said it had worked with the community to tackle parking issues and would issue tickets if there was illegal parking.

Image caption,
Police have ticketed cars parked partly on the pavement in Station Road on at least three occasions

Alison Matthews, who uses the train to travel to Belfast, was one of the drivers issued with a ticket.

"It really put me off, it was really awful," she said.

"They need to have a bigger car park or some kind of bus service that would leave the village and arrive at the train station before peak time trains.

"We are trying to be environmentally friendly by getting the train and not driving, and also trying to save money.

"The police do not seem to care, Translink does not care, it is just a bit of a mess."

Moira station's car park has 88 spaces, slightly more than the 82 at Portadown, a further two stops down the line.

But a project was recently completed to provide 347 new park-and-ride spaces next to Portadown station, while plans for a similar scheme in Moira have stalled.

Image source, Albert Bridge/Geograph
Image caption,
Moira Station has the oldest buildings on the Northern Ireland Railways network

A public information session for the plans to provide 400 new spaces was held in September 2016 and Translink had aimed for work to start in early 2018, but that has not yet happened.

"The expansion of park and ride facilities at Moira remains a priority for us," said a Translink spokesperson.

"The availability of suitable land remains a major challenge to progress and we are working with local landowners to try and acquire a site.

"Should a suitable land transfer be agreed, we will bring funding proposals forward to secure a site as a matter of urgency."

Alliance Party councillor Owen Gawith said both drivers and pedestrians had contacted him with different concerns.

"There is a level of understanding across the two sides" he said.

"Each seems to acknowledge that the other has a point, but the frustration of pedestrians and the occasional person in a wheelchair is particularly when vehicles are parked on the side [of the road].

"From car owners it is 'why is our car being ticketed?'

"They say they have to park down there if they do not get down early enough to use the car park.

"What it seems to come down to is that until and unless Translink can complete what it wants to do this problem is not going to go away."

'Show consideration'

PSNI Ch Insp Dobson said: "If police notice any illegal parking in the area, advice and warnings will be given to offenders to help promote community safety and reduce the number of possible casualties on our roads. If the problem persists, the use of fixed penalty notices and possible prosecution will be considered.

"Unfortunately it has been necessary for Police to issue Penalty Charge Notices on a number of occasions where vehicles were found to be illegally parked and causing an obstruction to local residents.

"We would ask all road users to show consideration for others by making sure you park your vehicle leaving enough room for pedestrians, pram and wheelchair users to safely pass by on the footpath."