SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly MLA has said that the all-island strategic rail review launched by her party colleague Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon MLA is an unprecedented opportunity to enhance local services and transform how people commute.
In response to the review, Mrs Kelly has launched a new campaign called ‘Let’s Get Rail Banbridge’ to press for 21st century services in Banbridge.
Upper Bann MLA Mrs Kelly said:
“As the MLA for Upper Bann, I am committed to delivering sustainable infrastructure that will transform communities, improve lives and help tackle the climate crisis. I am delighted that my party colleague Minister Nichola Mallon sees the opportunity to fundamentally review public transport and has launched the all-island strategic rail review.
“This gives us an unmissable opportunity to take a fresh look at transport facilities here and deliver the upgrade needed to get people out of their cars and onto the train. That is why I have launched a new campaign to get rail in Banbridge town centre which can deliver for local people and visitors now and into the future.
“Banbridge is large enough to merit rail access as a medium-sized town however, from the 2011 Census we know travelling by train is the least utilised mode of transport for residents. From a total of 13,679 residents, only 11 individuals used the train to travel to work and it is assumed that they got a train at other nearby stations such as Lurgan or Newry. That equates to less than 0.01%.
“We have the under-utilised Scarva station just four miles away and it is the second lowest usage of any station in Northern Ireland with approx. 12 passengers per day. Meanwhile, only 3 buses run from Banbridge to Scarva Station on weekdays, none on Saturdays and only one on a Sunday.
“There is an obvious and cost-effective way to make rail more accessible for Banbridge. Rename Scarva station ‘Banbridge – Scarva’, install a park and ride, introduce a shuttle bus service from Banbridge town centre, have more trains stopping particularly to and from Belfast and create safe cycling by opening up the Banbridge to Scarva Greenway.
“This is an ambitious plan but I believe people here deserve more ambition. The strategic rail review is an example of what we can do when we have political leaders prepared to have a fresh look at the needs of our communities and come forward with big ideas. I will be working with Minister Nichola Mallon to deliver better for everyone in our community and would encourage everyone to get behind this campaign.”