The SDLP has called on the Irish Government to intervene to save the inter-city Enterprise Rail Service between Belfast and Dublin. Transport Spokesperson John Dallat has expressed alarm at plans from Irish Rail to lengthen the journey time between the two cities and schedule departures at inconvenient times.
He said: “These plans would relegate the Enterprise Service to the fourth division of inter-city rail services. It would neuter it as a critical part of Ireland’s transport infrastructure which will be key to the economic development of both parts of this island.
“At present the travel time is 2 hours 15 minutes as it was in the days of steam engines. To introduce a new timetable which would make a bad situation worse is unacceptable and I fully support Translink in their endeavours to resist this plan which aims only to improve commuter services south of the border to the detriment of the Enterprise service.
“Should this plan go ahead it would have serious knock on implications for longer term plans to integrate the Derry-Belfast line with the all-Ireland rail network. I have discussed the issue with our leader Colum Eastwood who agrees that an urgent meeting with the Republic’s Minister for Transport, Pascal Donohue is required.
“We now have a month to have the new proposed timetable reviewed and changed with the endorsement of both Translink and Irish Rail. The implications of this are so serious that a change of heart must take place but it will take a great deal of lobbying by everyone who is interested in preserving this wonderful service for the future benefit of north and south. We cannot sit back and allow it to be slowly strangled by parochial interests that fail to see the bigger picture.”