Getting down to business

In one of its first acts of business, the under-representation of females in Ulster politics will be debated. The UUP wants the Assembly to join the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The SDLP are concerned about North-South rail links and US policy towards illegal/undocumented immigrants. Full motions here.BTW the SDLP motion calls for a donation to the organisation campaigning in the US, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. Could one of our US readers clarify for me is that permissible for a foreign government under US law?

  • pith

    When is Question Time?

  • Improved rail links are an absolute must, especially along the Belfast-Newry-Dublin corridor. This is an issue which I have been highlighting for several years- quite clearly there needs to be a regular, fast and reliable commuter service along the full stretch of the line to supplement the woeful Enterprise service.

    This will aid the respective economies on this island and also cut down on congestion in cities and towns, help the environment, and help sustain communities based outside the major conurbations by reducing the need for people to relocate the main centres of employment.

  • * relocate to the main centres of employment…

  • Bill

    Switzerland has no problem seeking connections with France, Italy, Germany and Austria (apologies if I forgot any place) yet we have immature politicians who because of their stance on the Republic being a foreign country were prepared to sell the needs of the local people.

    Will they now change and get a more mature attitude?

  • El Matador, I would go even further to say that the recent upgrade to new CK3 diesel trains region-wide was only a small step towards improving public transport.

    Having a coal-driven electricity plant at Kilroot, a cheaper service could have been provided, even though initial charges would likely be extremely expensive for conversion to overhead electric-driven rail cabs and carriages. They would have been a lot faster too given the weight differentials.

    Definitely, between Dublin and Belfast there needs to be a similar service of that offered in France and Europe in order to make travelling intercity a practical reality rather than a whimsicle dream.

    Mathematical certainities dictate that geographical locations can be greatly reduced via the speed by which you can get there using the method of distance travelled divided by the time taken to do so.

    I heard that an Aerlingus pilot moved house to Newry from Dublin due to the fact of cheaper housing but that he can also travel to Dublin more quickly via the motorway North/South than cutting across eitherside of Dublin.

    Back to the trains, its finding the cash that remains the problem but a feasibility study would be useful re Belfast to Dublin.

  • philip

    I suppose it beats MLA salary pay rises as the first thing debated. Maybe they should introduce a 50/50 policy akin to the PSNI recruitment drive 😛

  • jaffa

    “I suppose it beats MLA salary pay rises as the first thing debated.”

    Maybe not salaries but if the Assembly joins the CPA I’m sure there’ll be lots of Canadian, Australian and South African trips that need to be taken.

    Actually I quite like the idea of Ulster redefining itself as a Commonwealth Province, Ontario/Queensland style so I’m for it provided there’s no increment to the junket budget.

  • hotdogx

    If the sdlp start a campaign to reopen the sl&ncr they will certainly get allot of support from people in sligo eniskillen derry and donegal, it goes right behind my parents house! Maybe later the great nothern way from portadown to bundoran next, maybe soon NIs rail network will start to look a bit more like that in the republic. A rail revival is badly needed in ireland. Navan line, western rail line from cork maybe soon to derry!

  • GavBelfast

    It is an excellent idea – a western, cross-border corridor or corridors from Cork to Foyle Street or Waterside Station.

    While we’re at it, break-up Translink.

    Oh, and an end to the ridiculous waste that is a line going within half-a-mile of the permimeter fence at Aldergrove, yet not utlised for a rail link from the airport to Belfast or Lisburn.

    Finally, an enquiry into why Translink is permitted to charge more to get from Belfast to Aldergrove than on many of its services to Dublin Airport and City (oh, I forgot, competition.).

  • Comrade Stalin

    El Mat, I agree that the Enterprise service is of inferior quality. It is unreliable and prone to breakdown and very poor value for money. This has a lot to do with the fact that the locomotives used to operate it are underpowered and the track is not as well maintained as it needs to be. To fix all that (by adding generator vans, addng new rolling stock, and smoothing off some of the tight bends in the track to permit higher speeds), it’s likely to cost at least in the region of £40-£50 million.

    Democratic-Centre:

    Having a coal-driven electricity plant at Kilroot, a cheaper service could have been provided, even though initial charges would likely be extremely expensive for conversion to overhead electric-driven rail cabs and carriages. They would have been a lot faster too given the weight differentials.

    I don’t think we have the density or population size to justify an electrified line. We need to learn to walk before we can run. It’s possible to provide a decent service without electrification, and indeed Irish Rail manage this just fine on the Maynooth and Kildare lines.

    hotdogx:

    If the sdlp start a campaign to reopen the sl&ncr they will certainly get allot of support from people in sligo eniskillen derry and donegal,

    There is absolutely no way any of these old lines are likely to reopen in the near future. Some people are talking about the back road from Belfast to Derry via Portadown, Dungannon and Strabane. Folks, we need to get real and show that we can properly get the existing network moving, before we indulge in people’s wanky plans to reopen every little backwater railway closed during the 50s.

    I wonder out of all of these people clamouring for railways to be reopened, how many of them own cars and how many of those would sell their cars and use the railway instead if it opened. I doubt there would be many. I’m reminded of the story of Todd Andrews who received a group of delegates at CIE HQ in Heuston Station where they told him of their opposition to various closures occurring around the country. After the meeting, Andrews asked for all their rail tickets so that he could reimburse the cost of their travel. It turned out that not one had travelled by train – they had all come to the meeting by car.

    GavBelfast:

    Railway links to airports only work well when you have the level of traffic to support a frequent service. Belfast doesn’t (yet) have that, and I think you’ll find that the gap is well filled by the bus. I agree though, I would definitely break up Translink

  • GavBelfast

    Comrade Stalin,

    By way of comparison, the metro (rail of sorts) goes from Newcastle Airport to the city centre and is very well utilised.

    Newcastle Airport doesn’t have nearly as many passengers as Aldergrove.

    Of course it would need to be costed, but Aldergrove is implementing big plans, and I hope this is seriously considered.

    That the bus to go 18 miles to NI PLC’s main airport is often more expensive than the coach going 100 miles to a rival ‘external’ airport is scandalous.

  • Not PJ Again

    I see the SDLP motion about the undocumented was ruled incompetent, and they had to change it. Rather than doing things to create a headline, perhaps they should put some meaning and thought to what they raise.