TRANSPORT Minister Danny Kennedy has opened a new walking and cycling railway bridge at Ballymoney Station marking the completion of the Greenway Project.
The £1.3million project delivers important benefits for the people of Ballymoney and beyond with improved access between Castlecroft and the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre and extended park and ride facilities at the station.
Officially opening the new facility - which is the result of successful partnership working between the Department for Regional Development (DRD), Translink, Ballymoney Borough Council and Sustrans - Danny Kennedy said: “I congratulate all the stakeholders on the successful completion of this ambitious project.
“One of the key elements of the overarching Greenway Project was the installation of a new fully accessible pedestrian and cycle-bridge. By locating it across the railway at the station it replaces the current unmanned level crossing, and it provides safe access to and from the town making it much easier and more convenient for people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine.
“The provision of an additional 60 car park spaces in the extended Park and Ride now helps meet the needs of the increasing number of people who choose to use our sustainable public transport system.”
The Minister approved DRD funding of £900,000 towards the overall cost of the scheme, with the balance being met by Sustrans with support from the BIG Lottery Fund.
The Minister added: “With over a quarter of a million passenger journeys made to or from Ballymoney Station every year the continued growth in passengers numbers travelling by train clearly demonstrates the value of investment in our rail network.”
John Trethowan, Translink’s Chairman, congratulated everyone on the “hard work and effective partnerships established to deliver this project”.
He said: “I would like to thank our Property Team and our contractors who have been working together to deliver this impressive new bridge. It offers a better and safer route for all and places our station at the heart of this sustainable Greenway Network.
“We have already seen tremendous growth on the Derry/Londonderry line in recent years with over 1.5million passengers travelling last year on this line alone. Combined with the introduction of our new fleet, this project will help us to sustain and grow passenger numbers to and from Ballymoney.
“We are very grateful for the significant investment from the Minister and his Department, Sustrans and the Big Lottery to allow us to deliver this important project.”
Ballymoney Mayor, Councillor Evelyne Robinson, said: “This project has created a modern, accessible bridge, in the heart of Ballymoney. The impressive link between the north and south of the town will offer pedestrians and cyclists a direct route to the town centre.
“The success of the project has been due to the enthusiasm and commitment of Translink, the Department for Regional Development, Sustrans and the members and officers of Ballymoney Borough Council and the local champions, who all shared a vision of the bridge which would create benefits for the people of the borough, rail passengers, cyclists and walkers.
“Creating a visually attractive feature like the Railway Bridge will generate confidence in the town and encourage further development. My Council welcomes the opening of the bridge and is confident that it will be fully used so that both residents and visitors can enjoy this wonderful addition to our town’s landscape.”
To facilitate the expected increase in customer numbers in the run-up to Christmas, from the 17 November the majority of train services operating between Belfast and Coleraine will be increased from 3-car to 6-car services and will operate until Sunday 23 December.
An additional late night Christmas shopping train will also operate from 3 December until 22 December between Great Victoria Street Station in Belfast and Coleraine, departing Belfast at 22:08 (Monday to Saturday.)