Online petition for Circle Train Line around Belfast commuter belt takes off
A petition to create a ‘Circle Train Line’ around the Belfast commuter belt has secured almost 1,700 signatures in less than four days.
The petition to the Department for Infrastructure argues that the Belfast Metro Area has “a chronic dependency on car use highlighted by the daily traffic jams and congestion that blight the city”.
It says the proposal is to reallocate funding that had been earmarked for the stalled York Street the YSI funding to reopen the Knockmore Line between Antrim and Lisburn and dual the train track going north from Belfast to create a Circle Line around the city.
The aim would be to have services running every 15 minutes in both directions up to midnight and connecting with the International Airport.
Aaron Vennard from Antrim is the man behind the petition. Working in financial services he has been inspired by public transport in New York, London, Toronto, and Chicago.
He said: “For the most part the infrastructure is in place but additional stations will be required in key locations. Such a system should make train journeys the logical choice when travelling to and from Belfast, removing traffic from the city and ultimately reducing emissions.”
Former Alliance leader David Ford said he has campaigned for the creation of the ‘Circle Line’ for over 25 years.
“The Knockmore [Antrim to Lisburn] line remains intact, although current services between Belfast and Derry operate on the Bleach Green [Antrim to Whiteabbey] line,” he said.
“There is a growing population on both these lines in areas like Crumlin, Glenavy, Templepatrick and Mossley and many people from these areas travel regularly into Belfast. A new station at the M2 junction at Ballymartin could add to the service currently provided by the Airbus and a station at Aldergrove could provide an enhanced service to the International Airport.
“If we are serious about tackling the climate crisis, it is imperative that we provide quality public transport and reduce the use of private cars. The Circle Line would not require massive new infrastructure, but a more efficient use of the existing tracks.”
A Translink spokeswoman said: “The Knockmore to Antrim line is protected and the potential need and benefit of re-opening this line in the longer term is recognised.”
The on-going all-Island Strategic Rail Review is considering how the rail network on the island of Ireland can improve sustainable connectivity, and considering the feasibility of higher speeds on the network, she added. “We welcome all suggestions regarding potential growth for public transport into the future.”
A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “Minister Mallon is committed to developing transport infrastructure that improves people’s lives, connects communities and tackles the climate emergency through prioritising active and sustainable transport options.
“While the Department is not aware of any formal proposal for a Belfast Circle Line, any proposals and views will be considered as part of the Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan process before any final decisions are taken. We would welcome further information from those advocating for this proposal.
“Minister Mallon is very ambitious for rail expansion across our island and is taking forward the All-Island Strategic Rail Review with her Ministerial colleague Eamon Ryan in the South. This review will consider how the rail network on the island of Ireland can improve sustainable connectivity between major cities and towns, enhance regional accessibility and support balanced regional development across our island.
“With regard to the York Street Interchange, the Department has noted the motion proposed on 10 November by Belfast City Council’s Growth and Regeneration Committee for the Council on the York Street Interchange project. We understand this issue will be debated at the full Council meeting on 1 December. In March this year Minister Mallon announced the outcome of the Independent Assurance Review of the York Street Interchange project, accepting in full its six recommendations. The Minister asked for further work to be carried out, particularly around place making and to maximise ambition in terms of what can be delivered for communities, connectivity and the wider living places agenda. This work is well advanced and when completed the Minister will decide on the next steps for the scheme.”
:: See the petition at: https://bit.ly/2Z02hE1
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