Chris Conway, the Chief Executive of Translink, Northern Ireland’s bus and rail provider, today testified on the state of public transport here. His evidence confirmed the criminal neglect of public transport by Stormont over many years.
Mr Conway exposed the fact that per capita funding for bus and rail services in NI is only 27% of the UK average. That is Stormont spends just a little bit more than a quarter of what Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff spend on bus and rail services – for every man, woman and child.
This situation is compounded by the fact that Northern Ireland is a rural region and the cost of operating public transport here is far higher due to our sparse population densities.
Mr Conway warned that the very future of Translink itself was uncertain and said that underfunding of public transport left it facing question marks over its financial viability.
1,000 bus and rail services under threat!
In a comment which highlights just how bad things are. The Translink Chief Executive warned that one thousand bus and rail services would be lost if the budget remained 10 percent below where it was. He further said that these would be primarily in rural areas.
This would mean Stormont presiding over the greatest calamity in public transport here since the railways were closed and the tracks lifted up in the late 1950s.
Continue reading “Bus and rail services once again under attack from Stormont austerity”
The need for a rail connection down these parts is something myself and the independents on council have raised consistently – despite the naysayers.
Indeed it’s been an issue I’ve pushed for many years now. Before the last Assembly election – thanks to encouragement from the likes of local rail enthusiast Selwyn Johnston (who has been fighting this cause for this for decades) I published estimates of how much a rail extension to Enniskillen would cost – calculations supplied to me by Unite shop stewards working in NI Rail.
Indeed as a result of my pushing the issue consistently, Unite in Northern Ireland raised a rail connection to Fermanagh as an example of the sort of public investment project that could be taken forward by a Labour government when they met with former party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
His team were looking for capital infrastructural projects that would be transformative – and they certainly grasped its significance for the south west. Sadly that wasn’t to be!
A rail connection would be transformative for tourism and connectivity in the Southwest. If coupled to a broad process of electrification it would reduce the environmental pollution associated with privatised transport and encourage remote working and a renaissance of rural communities here.
Continue reading “Is all-Ireland rail consultation designed to play off competing communities?”