Train pain - locals lambast lack of seating

The first train arrives at Ballymena Rail station after the recent track upgrades. BT26-284AC

The first train arrives at Ballymena Rail station after the recent track upgrades. BT26-284AC

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Ballymena residents and a North Antrim MLA are calling for Translink and DRD to take action on overcrowded trains on the Londonderry-Belfast line.

With the Ballymena station being placed roughly halfway along the route, local passengers boarding the train are having to stand for most, if not all of the way.

MLA Paul Frew said: “I’ve been contacted by constituents who regularly use trains on the Londonderry-Belfast line and they are complaining about the crowded nature of the carriages. In some cases elderly passengers are even being forced to stand for long journeys without any chance of getting a seat.

“It isn’t an acceptable standard for train users to experience, these people who are commuting to work, are paying a considerable amount of money to be able to travel on the train every day yet they are having to wait extensive periods of time to get a seat, if they even manage to get one before their journey is over.”

One resident who regularly commutes to Belfast told the Times that getting a seat at Ballymena is becoming more diffcult.

He said: “I have no doubt that the route is becoming more popular, especially coming up to Christmas. More often than not you have to stand for at least part of the route, most of the seats are already taken by the time it reaches Ballymena, this is the same for whatever direction you are going.”

Frew added: “I have contacted Translink and the Minister of Regional Development regarding the issue and have stressed that whilst it is good that the trains are being used well, there needs to be adequate service to meet the demands of the commuters.

“We have to take into consideration here that people choose trains as a means of comfortable, time-saving transport but it is proving instead to be an on-going hassle for commuters. I have received response from Translink explaining that they have recognised increasing passenger growths on this line however all their available trains are in service and are reviewing capacity provisions.

“I will continue to press this matter to both DRD and Translink as taking into account the growing number of train passengers, it is an issue that is only going to escalate further therefore needs addressed as soon as possible.”