There will be additional morning and evening train services between Belfast and Newry.
The new timetable comes into effect in July and comes in response to concerns that the service was far from adequate to meet local needs.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard had instructed Translink to conduct a review and has subsequently announced what he has described as “some significant enhancements to rail provision for passengers in the Newry area”.
There will be a number of additional services for those commuting to and from Belfast both during the week and at the weekend.
Mr Hazzard said: “When I came into post just eight months ago I was determined to invest in improving our rail infrastructure and accelerating the growth in passenger numbers right across our public transport systems.
“I am delighted therefore to be able to announce some exciting new changes to our Newry service provision and I am confident that in the future further enhancements will follow as passenger numbers continue to grow and demand increases.
“I have decided to introduce additional morning services to Belfast at 6.30am and 7.30am, and an additional evening return service to Newry from at 6.20pm. There will now also be a late evening service from Belfast to Newry at 10.10pm.
“On a Saturday there will be an additional morning service from to Belfast at 7.45am and evening returns to Newry at 5.30pm and 10.10pm.
“We have also discussed with Irish Rail the option of extending their 5.20pm Dublin/Dundalk service to Newry which would give an additional Dublin service to Newry at a peak time. I am very confident this service will be agreed in the weeks ahead.
“I want to thank Translink for their very engaging and constructive approach to this review and their ongoing commitment to meeting the increasing demand for Newry service provision.”
Newry & Armagh Sinn Fein Assembly candidate Conor Murphy welcomed the announcement.
He said: “This is great news and a very hefty rebuke to those who flippantly dismissed the Minister’s recent focus on addressing issues of dissatisfaction with the Newry service as a ‘political stunt’. I hope they have the good grace to acknowledge this announcement for what it is, an excellent development and good news for service users and for those who seek to encourage use of and access to public transport.
“I along with others have worked diligently with the Minister and Translink in genuine efforts to enhance the service.
“We met with key decision makers and argued that the citizens of Newry and south Armagh deserve a train service that was on par with other parts of the north. Certainly with the huge investment in the Newry station that I oversaw as a minister it made sense to utilise this state of the art passenger hub.”
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