The Chairperson welcomed representatives of Translink to the meeting: Mr. G. Smyth, Public Affairs and Project Communications Officer; Mr. M. Gormley, Programme Manager – Renewals (Network Engineering), together with Ms. S. Clements, ARUP and Mr. A. Cupples, Senior Project Manager, Babcock.
The representative’s provided a presentation on the Lagan Junction – Yorkgate Track Renewal Project. Mr. Smyth explained the Central Area Track Renewal (CATR) was a track renewal strategy in the centre of Belfast, which started from the south side of Lanyon Station to Yorkgate station as well as 499 metres on the Bangor line from Lagan Junction.
He highlighted that significant track renewal works would be required each year for the next 5 – 6 years to deliver track works in priority order. He advised that this would maintain operational performance and avoid a backlog of renewals building up, which the supply chain would be unable to resource. He advised that the first element of CATR works had been successfully carried out through the renewal of Lagan Junction during 2020.
Mr. Gormley advised that the project location for this element of CATR was from Lagan Junction (where the Bangor line met the Belfast line) to the north side of Yorkgate Station over Dargan Bridge. He highlighted that this was a strategic part of NI Railways network for both the Larne and North West lines.
Mr. Cupples provided a detailed overview of the site works, together with the key project facts and construction timeline. He highlighted that the impact of works included:
· The train line between Yorkgate Station and Belfast Lanyon Place Station would be closed on several occasions in line with the possession strategy;
· Yorkgate Station would be closed over the Christmas period;
· A temporary timetable with bus substitution services would operate, ensuring public transport routes were maintained;
· Passengers with valid rail tickets would also be able to travel on scheduled Ulsterbus services 218 operating between Ballymena/Antrim and Belfast in addition to the 212 service between Derry~Londonderry and Belfast during the closure periods; and
· Mitigation measures would be implemented to minimise impact and disruption, for example, noise attenuation, timing of deliveries, appropriate management of stie compounds and considerate working by contractors at all times.
Mr. Smyth pointed out that, unfortunately, some disruption to local residents was inevitable as engineering works progressed. However, Translink would seek to keep noise and inconvenience to a minimum and explained further the mitigation measures which would be put in place.
He highlighted that Translink was undertaking significant community consultation in advance of the construction works, which would include:
· Letters and leaflets posted to individual properties in the vicinity of the works;
· Online project webpage (www.translink.co.uk/catr);
· Train announcements and posters in key train stations;
· Individual engagement and presentations to key stakeholders (elected representatives / local community);
· Use of digital platforms, e.g. social media and webinar;
· A public drop-in session at Lanyon Place Station;
· Dedicated contractor control phone number provided to residents to effectively deal with any queries or complaints; and
· Support for local community initiatives.
During discussion, a Member questioned if there were plans to improve the walkway for pedestrians from Yorkgate to the City Centre. Mr. Smyth advised he would provide feedback on this issue in due course.
After discussion, the Chairperson thanked the representatives for their attendance and they retired from the meeting.
The Committee noted the information which had been provided and that, where relevant, Translink would provide further information on the issues raised.