New hourly Londonderry-Belfast rail service follows quadrupling of journeys

The Londonderry to Coleraine train passing Downhill beach
The Londonderry to Coleraine train passing Downhill beach

A new hourly rail service on the Londonderry-Belfast line follows a virtual quadrupling of passenger numbers between the Province’s two biggest cities over the past 15 years, Translink has said.

However, just how much the increased service will cost remains a mystery, with Translink saying that details of the costs of putting on extra trains between Northern Ireland’s two largest cities were “not currently available”.

The new timetable – which will take effect from Sunday – will see 16 return services leave Londonderry and Belfast (32 trains in total) on weekdays from approximately 6.15am.

The last service will depart close to 9.30pm, with each journey timed at roughly two hours.

On weekdays this represents an increase in return services from 10 to 16, while the number of return services on a Saturday will double from eight to 16. The Sunday service remains the same with six return trips between Londonderry and Belfast.

The News Letter asked Translink for figures illustrating the extra demand on the line which has prompted the increased services.

It said 630,000 journeys were made in 2001/2, and this has increased by around two million to over 2.6 million journeys in 2016/17.

When asked if there have been occasions when the trains between Londonderry and Belfast have been overcrowded, a spokesperson for Translink said: “Trains are regularly busy on this line and we believe the new timetable with increased frequency and capacity will enhance our customer journey experience.”

Translink said details of the costs of putting on these extra train services between Londonderry and Belfast were “not currently available”.

The new hourly service follows an investment of £46.4 million to complete a passing loop and installation of new signalling and telecoms on the Coleraine to Londonderry line earlier this year.

Translink chief executive Chris Conway said: “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.

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