Following many years of lobbying by Alliance leader David Ford, there is now a green light for the development of a new railway station at Ballymartin, beside the M2 motorway between Templepatrick and Ballyclare.
The Transport Holding Company has purchased 16 acres of land between the A57 road and the railway line, just beside the M2.
David Ford said:
“This is excellent news for a number of reasons. It will allow people in Templepatrick to use trains along the Bleach Green line which was reopened four years ago, but doesn’t serve the village it goes through.
“The location is far better than a site in the village would have been. It will also serve a wide area towards Ballyclare, including Doagh and Parkgate.
“However, the impact will be far wider. By building beside the M2, with sufficient land for a major car park, there will be the opportunity to attract commuters off the M2, to catch either a train or a bus into Belfast.
“It is possible that both the Templepatrick Airbus and express services like the Maiden City Flyer to Derry could call at Ballymartin, as well as all trains on the line. This would ensure a service at least four times an hour into and out of Belfast once the new trains are fully operational.
“It is even possible that there could be indicator boards on the M2 showing when the next train and bus would call at the new station. This would not be just a train halt, but a fully integrated bus and railway station.
“Attracting commuters onto public transport at Templepatrick would have major benefits to people living in the Glengormley area, by reducing the traffic passing through Sandyknowes. This would be far more effective at cutting congestion and pollution that the suggested ‘park and ride’ at Ballyhenry, just off the roundabout, or the widening of the M2 down the hill to Greencastle.
“I have asked that Translink publish their ideas for development at Ballymartin as soon as possible. It is important that local people get their chance to have their say on this exciting proposal.”
Meanwhile, Alliance East Antrim MLA Sean Neeson has welcomed the decision by Translink to shelve proposals to move the railway station in Jordanstown to another location.
Mr Neeson said: “With the installation of new safety barriers at the railway station, Translink no longer sees the need to relocate the station. Many Jordanstown residents had expressed deep concern about the proposed move, because of infringement on their properties.
“My hope now is that Translink will now consider the provision of park and ride facilities in the area, especially as work is due to start very soon on the upgrading of the track.”