Aer Lingus transfers from Shannon to Belfast

The announcement that Aer Lingus is to introduce flights from Belfast International to Amsterdam, Barcelona and Geneva in December, and Heathrow in January, had been expected (see first comment here) although, as I understand it, Aer Lingus were required to inform the stock exchange before any public statement was made. First Minister Ian Paisley and junior minister Gerry Kelly will be at hand to bask in the publicity welcome the news but other ministers there are not so happy and Aer Lingus are meeting with workers at Shannon. Simon of The Dossing Times adds some thoughts at Irish Election while the Limerick Blogger is updating on the fly.. so to speak. Adds All politics is, indeed, local. More The official welcome. Update Whilst the junior minister, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly, officially welcomed the announcement there appears to be a difference of opinion within the party ranks – “Aer Lingus decision will boost local economy” and, in another example of local politics, “Aer Lingus’s decision is a direct result of privatisation”

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  • Aaron S

    One would hope that we wouldn’t see any RoI politician stupid enough to criticise this decision on the basis of it being bad for Ireland… clearly it’s a great move for Ireland – many more Irish people now have access to flights to the heart of London.

    Let’s hope the people running Aldergrove do something to deal with the recent problems with check in and security at the airport – last week I saw people queued from the Easyjet check-in desk out of the building. On a Sunday afternoon.

  • BonarLaw

    I thought that this was Belfast Int beating Birmingham to be the UK hub for Aer Lingus not poaching jobs from the Irish Republic. I wonder hop the only all island party in government will spin this form of North/ South economics?

  • BonarLaw

    “One would hope that we wouldn’t see any RoI politician stupid enough to criticise this decision on the basis of it being bad for Ireland”

    I don’t think the recently unemployed of Limerick or their TDs would see it that way. If I were the local TD (!) I would be criticising the loss of my constituents’ jobs to another country loudly and vocally.

    The move adds to the Irish unemployment stats and increses Irish benefit payments so of course it can be criticised as being a bad decision for that state. Unless the recently jobless are expected to celebrate their new status as some form of North/ South co-operation.

  • Aaron S

    “I don’t think the recently unemployed of Limerick or their TDs would see it that way. If I were the local TD (!) I would be criticising the loss of my constituents’ jobs to another country loudly and vocally.”

    Local MPs are entitled to make claims on the basis of their constituents. But a bad decision for Limerick is not, despite what people in Munster sometimes seem to think, a bad decision for Ireland.

    Moving these flights to Belfast increases the catchment area hugely, and not just to the six counties – ie, all of Ulster and north Leinster at the very least.

    “The move adds to the Irish unemployment stats and increses Irish benefit payments so of course it can be criticised as being a bad decision for that state. Unless the recently jobless are expected to celebrate their new status as some form of North/ South co-operation. ”

    What a ridiculously simplistic way of looking at things. Economic stability in the North is good for the Republic. Better transport links in Belfast helps the border counties as well as the North. And unemployment, as I’m sure you know, is more than managable in RoI – though that’s no comfort for the people who lost their jobs, obviously.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ‘Let’s hope the people running Aldergrove do something to deal with the recent problems with check in and security at the airport’

    Can’t argue on this one — a few days ago I witnessed a disgruntled traveller addressing a member of the security staff who had requested he remove his belt and shoes; ‘do I look stupid enough to be a f***ing Muslim?’

  • VoiceOfTreason

    Aer Lingus, another all-Ireland body.

    Onwards to the Republic!

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Tesco, another all British Isles body.

    Onwards to the reunited kingdom!

    Get a grip voiceoftreason.

  • Yokel

    Bonar Law

    Aer Lingus had to get the Heathrow slots from somewhere. Buying them would be out of the question financially (who woudl sell anyway) so it simply had to rejig its own slots. Shannon is the loser.

    Aerlingus has been looking for a non Irish hub for a while. By plunking themselves out of the ROI jursiduction but extremely close it also doesnt raise any competitive issues with the regulators down below as they can add routes as and when. There are also good logistics and other commercial regions to deploy a non Ireland hub.

    I suppose a vague comparison would be like BT. In NI its the incumbent and thus subject to stronger regulation because of its heavily dominant position in infrastructure etc. In the South its not, Eircom are in that position.

  • Hogan from County Tyrone

    Gerry Lvs Castro

    What is your point?

    I would assume you meant that the problem lay not with the security staff but with the intellectually unwashed ignoramus they were dealing with at the time. As for the man asking did he look stupid enough? i would suggest by his extreme prejudices the security attendant could have answered in the affirmative (leaving out the Muslim part of course).

    Increased security is a reality which we all had to deal with. Frustrating of course. I once observed a man hesitant to remove his shoes (while holding up a line of course) becuase he feared the carpet was dirty and he would get a foot infection through his socks!!.

    Note to all: while in airport security queues shut your mouth and keep your heart-rate down.

  • Just to pour a bit of cold water on the mutual ministerial self-congratulation, none of these are new routes. Amsterdam is a long established Easyjet route, Geneva is a long established winter Easyjet route, Barcelona is a long established Jet2 route which Easyjet is also due to muscle in on in November.

    The return of a Belfast International to Heathrow route will be a boon for those wanting to get to Heathrow while avoiding metropolitan Belfast. But of the phase two routes, Rome is an existing Easyjet route, Malaga is an existing Easyjet route, Faro is an… er… existing Easyjet route (and hardly of huge strategic importance) and Budapest is, amazingly, new. I’m surprised no-one has cottoned on to the potential of a direct Belfast-Vilnius fight.

    All in all, is this a boon for the Belfast traveller or Aer Lingus trying to go head to head with Easyjet in one of its most profitable hubs? Sure we’ll all benefit from the price war this winter, but is there anything here that looks sustainable in the long run? Other than the Budapest and Heathrow routes, and possibly additional capacity on the busy Amsterdam route, I don’t see it.

  • Aaron S

    “Increased security is a reality which we all had to deal with. ”

    Yes – but sadly, it is increased security which we’e dealing with at Aldergrove, not ‘increased numbers of security staff’. As far as I can tell, it’s more checks by basically the same number of people. Is it any wonder people lose their temper?

    BIA is, of course, not alone in this – all BAA airports in London are currently disaster zones.

  • Yokel

    Sammy

    My assumption is that Heathrow & Amsterdam are going to act as straight moves to link with BA & KLM for international flights plus Heathrow is the god of routes, you can not beat ot for onward connections. I’d watch for code sharing arrangements. There is possibly room on Amsterdam for another few flights in the schedule.

    The others, I assume are because they are fairly safe routes, they know there is a market there maybe? Why reinvent wheel scenario.

    Anyway Sleazyjet have already announced new routes and sticking another plane or two at Aldergrove. They are prepared to slug it out and I suspect win some of those battles.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Hogan — a couple of points:

    1. The incident was both appalling and amusing. The fact that the public are virtually strip-searched to board a flight to England is nothing short of scandalous. The fact that this practice is carried out to prevent religious fanatics exploding themselves in an entirely wrong-headed and preposterous cause speaks volumes for the human condition.

    2. Whilst I personally felt that this individual was fool-hardy in voicing what many were no doubt thinking, the security person’s response (‘could you please moderate your language sir’) appeared to take objection more with the F word than the slight on the Muslim faith.

  • steve48

    I suspect this is only a start to significant increases at BIA. New trans atlantic routes will follow so Aer Lingus positioning to take advantage of those is a smart move.
    Plans are already moving ahead for extensions to the arrivals and departure terminals.
    What will be important now is whether or not the Executive can address the road infrastructure in the area i.e. M2 link avoiding Templepatrick, improving the Antrim-Airport road avoiding the Bridge at Oldstone Road which is frequently closed due to truckers driving into it.

  • I assume are because they are fairly safe routes, they know there is a market there maybe? Why reinvent wheel scenario.

    It’s acutally quite a risky scenario, Yokel. Easyjet are established on nearly all those routes (except Barcelona, where Jet2 are established). You have to do a certain amount of loss leading to pull people over and then you risk losing them all back again when you start pricing to actually make a profit. Why take on Easyjet into Rome and Malaga when you could probably make a market flying to Frankfurt (excellent onward connections and still Europe’s No. 2 business hub), Vilnuis (immigrant special), Riga (immigrant special plus stag weekenders) and Magaluf (spide paradise), all of which lack a direct flight from Belfast. Maybe even a flight to somewhere in Greece, Turkey or Bulgaria.

    I can’t really see traffic between Belfast and Rome supporting two carriers (let alone Belfast-Barcelona supporting three) in the long term, so the only way I think you can interpret this is as a decapitation strategy by Aer Lingus.

    I agree entire wrt Heathrow and Amsterdam, by the way. They make total sense.

  • Valenciano

    “I’m surprised no-one has cottoned on to the potential of a direct Belfast-Vilnius fight.
    Sure we’ll all benefit from the price war this winter, but is there anything here that looks sustainable in the long run?”

    Or Belfast – Riga (much more central if you’re only going to have one flight going to the Baltic capitals). EasyJet are reknowned for silently dropping routes every so often. I was particularly hacked off when they ditched the Valencia – Berlin route last October after only 18 months of operations. So we’ll see how long these last.

    Also let’s not underestimate the competition through Dublin airport which can now be reached in two hours and for around 12 quid (Europa to Aldergrove costs over six quid from memory.
    ) If the prices through Belfast aren’t competitive then the proles will go to Dub instead.

  • Yokel

    Sammy

    I’m just guessing on the other routes as its hard to know what the logic is. Is there any aid from the air route development types for this kind of move?

    My assumption is no, especially if the routes are already covered, so this thing is going to have to run on its merits in the short as well as long term.

    Steve’s point about the Transatlantic routes is inetresting. NYC is working for Continental, I haven’t heard of any issues for Zoom, so its possible, especially with the fact that you don’t have to use four engined monsters to cross the Atlantic these days. I did read somewhere that Aer Lingus’ issue at the moment though is that their long haul fleet is pretty much being used up elsewhere.

  • Good to see the return of the BFS-LHR route.

    Also now no one can use a dislike of Sleazyjet not to visit Geneva. Brilliant Museum of the Reformation next to the Cathedral, and very close to the Reformers Wall.

  • slug

    “What will be important now is whether or not the Executive can address the road infrastructure in the area i.e. M2 link avoiding Templepatrick, improving the Antrim-Airport road avoiding the Bridge at Oldstone Road which is frequently closed due to truckers driving into it. ”

    Er, before these, could we possibly, just possibly, have such a basic thing as a bus shuttle to the Antrim Translink Station for onward connections for those of us who don’t want to go to Belfast?

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    This is great news for NI. An investment of up to £100 million has to be welcomed by all.

  • interested

    slug,
    I’d imagine that a shuttle to Antrim Bus station would be fairly useless unless you’re planning to travel to a town or village surrounding Antrim. If its like any other provincial town in NI you’ll probably have to end up getting a bus to the Europa anyway if you want to get to most other towns.

  • interested

    And just to be cheerful – the fact that Belfast is the UK hub for our neighbouring state’s airline must be good news for us all!

    😉

  • slug

    interested

    “I’d imagine that a shuttle to Antrim Bus station would be fairly useless unless you’re planning to travel to a town or village surrounding Antrim.”

    Antrim Translink Station is actually quite useful as it has regular bus and rail services to destinations in Co Antrim and Co Londonderry–e.g. Coleraine, Portrush, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Limavady etc. I fly in to the airport often and have to take a taxi to the Translink Station for £10 then to catch the bus. Belfast is in the wrong direction.

  • interested

    slug,
    Good to hear about Antrim, seems to be much better than most other bus stations around the Country.

    Its actually got me thinking – Antrim isn’t far away and its got the train station so why indeed not provide a shuttle bus there (either free or for £1/£2) which then gives people a rail or bus connection. There are other airports where you have to get a bus to the train station and it would probably be a better option than only having the bus to the Europa which as you mention is going out of the way for some people.

    I suppose its all done to maintain the idea that this is ‘Belfast’ Airport and not ‘Antrim’ airport…… Cant have anyone thinking that this airport isn’t located in Belfast now can we…

  • Yokel

    sadly it’ll never reach 100million inward cash. It’ll cost that in time but it’ll be a long time.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    GLC: “1. The incident was both appalling and amusing. The fact that the public are virtually strip-searched to board a flight to England is nothing short of scandalous. The fact that this practice is carried out to prevent religious fanatics exploding themselves in an entirely wrong-headed and preposterous cause speaks volumes for the human condition. ”

    Tell me about it… as a financial professional, I travel a great deal. I have a fairly bland name — painfully WASP-ish, ironically enough and both given and surname are dead common, if one believes the Book of Lists. I think I am batting about .500 on the allegedly random “supplementary security search” for flying.

    I think the worst, however, was a trip to Miami in the month immediately following 9/11 — the FLA NG was patrolling the airport in fire-teams of four — three rifles and a SAW.

    GLC: “2. Whilst I personally felt that this individual was fool-hardy in voicing what many were no doubt thinking, the security person’s response (’could you please moderate your language sir’) appeared to take objection more with the F word than the slight on the Muslim faith. ”

    That would perhaps have to do with the fact that, at least in recent years, when something goes *BOOM*, there happens to be a Musselman in the vicinity. Darfur, Somalia, Chechnya, Bali, New York City, London, Madrid. The hits, as they say, just keep on coming.

    What is truly amusing, however, is when some of their organizations, packed with HAMAS and Hizbollah sympathizers and supporters, get their back up and decide to sue — apparently, the process of discovery does not exist in the Islamic world and more than a few of these fellows were appalled to discover just how far the process goes.

    On the other hand, its not the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard coming out of an airport security check, either.

  • BonarLaw

    “Antrim isn’t far away and its got the train station”

    The deep irony is of course that the railway line runs past both the “Belfast” airports without stopping at either. Crap beyond words.

  • GavBelfast

    Actually, the train line runs within a half-mile of all THREE Northern Ireland airports, and stops at none of them ….

  • It would be interesting to count how many Republic passport holders live within 1 hr drive of BFS as opposed to SNN. Sinn Fein having its cake and eating it would look odd if it were any other airport but wasn’t it the case that many of Shannon Town’s residents used to be residents of NI pre-1960s?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    GavBelfast: “Actually, the train line runs within a half-mile of all THREE Northern Ireland airports, and stops at none of them …. ”

    Happens… and for a variety of reasons. Infrastructure is built on the assumptions of the day, usually with only a very narrow view of the future. Without knowing a few more specifics, I can only work in generalities — but flying was until recently (at least as infrastructure looks at time) not really the common man’s way of getting about. Throw in the back-scratching deals the such inconvenience makes possible — cab companies, “limo” companies, off-site parking facilities, air-port long term parking, etc., all with a vested interest in maintaining that level of inconvenience.

    Just because something makes sense doesn’t mean the status quo is likely to embrace it.

  • Infrastructure is built on the assumptions of the day, usually with only a very narrow view of the future.

    It’s worse than that, DC. The train used to stop next to Belfast City – but then they moved the terminal a mile away!

  • Southern Observer

    There is an all-pervading melancholia down here in Limerick.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Sammy Morse: “It’s worse than that, DC. The train used to stop next to Belfast City – but then they moved the terminal a mile away! ”

    I think I was happier with the generalities.

    One wonders what the rationale (I can’t call it “logic” in good conscience…) for that change.

    On the other hand, this sort of stupidity in near-universal — the tales of building NYC’s “train to the plane” are sufficient to make one blanche — too many stakeholders, just like too many cooks, can really make a mess of things.

  • Bretagne

    “It’s worse than that, DC. The train used to stop next to Belfast City – but then they moved the terminal a mile away! “

    They also closed the rail line that runs 700 yrds from the terminal at Belfast Int..

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&tab=wl&q=

    – and in Derry one of the saftey reasons given for the recent closure was the trains running over the end of the runway!

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&tab=wl&q=

    In this case it would have cost little at the time to build the terminal next to the railway track…

    One of the things they got right in the south is an overarhing transport plan – http://www.tranport21.ie – it wouldn’t have help in the North…

  • slug

    In a recent NI Assembly debate the Minister for Regional Dvpt (Conor Murphy) told the house that it only becomes viable to build a rail link to an airport when it handles 100m passengers per year. (Heathrow handles 70m).

    David Ford had to correct him – the correct figure is 10m, and that’s when you have to build the entire track de novo. In Aldergrove’s case, we will soon be at 6m, the track is already there, so the case is there.

  • Bretagne

    Slug – agree the case looks strong – especially when you take out the cars/cabs and buses using up the capacity being added to on the M2.

    Also taking that thinking a bit further – given that the rail line in goes within touching distance of Dublin, and the recently closed line is very close to Aldergrove – it it too much to dream of the investment being put into additional junction at Lisburn/signalling and line, to actually link both airports – even in 10 yrs time – and also enable a direct Derry to Dublin (via Coleraine, Ballymena, Newry) rail link – (yes, it is too much to dream of) – in the meantime this is good business by Aer Lingus.

  • Joe Hickey

    Actually both SF statements are quite similar so no difference of opinion within the party. The new Belfast routes are very welcome but they didn’t need to be at the expense of the Irish mid-west. Limerick City has the highest unemployment in the south and huge pockets of poverty and social deprivation. (I should know -I live in Moyross) Aer Lingus have @ least 2 slots leased at Heathrow and could easily have taken 2 slots from their almost 20 daily Dublin -Heathrow if needed. Best of luck to Belfast.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wish there was a flight to Munich from Belfast. Getting to southern Germany in general seems to be tricky enough ..

  • Comrade Stalin

    Regarding railway links to airports, I don’t think a station at Aldergrove or Belfast would be heavily subscribed. It’s not that people don’t like trains; it’s that the service on the lines isn’t frequent or predictable enough, and this is a point that politicians often overlook – putting the infrastructure for a rail connection in place is relatively easy; subsidizing the railway to provide a frequent and reliable link is not.

    The other thing that the rail link needs is to be right at the terminal building, or to have some kind of an easy way of getting to it.

  • GavBelfast

    Comrade Stalin,

    Those sorts of (valid) infrastrural points you make seem to be lost on advocates of the Maze plan, you know, the one that has new slip roads to and from the M1 and A1, rail spurs, loads of new trains, etc, taking everyone there and back efficiently.

    😉

    Back to airports, the Sydenham halt is a joke – it would be very sensible and inexpensive to have a new halt opposite the new terminal building with a below surface walkway to and from the new terminal, you would have thought the over-spend on the line could have accommodated it!

  • Bretagne

    Comrade Stalin –

    1) lets start by proposing that wouldn’t neet to be run by the goons at Translink – why not privatise it – better still as the line is currently closed but in working order – run it as a light rail service.

    2) Aldergrove looks like it will grow – the 15 yr plan talks to 10m passengers – this means than current long stay parking will need to become short/mid stay, and long stay parking moved so moving the line a bit towards the terminal is not impossible.

    3) Charge a £1 levey per passenger – this give £6m
    per annum – which is a decent subsidy in anyones books – and aiports should not be allowed to grow
    without some capacity for public tansport.

    “Subsidizing the railway to provide a frequent and reliable link is not” – fair comment – I suggest that on top of the subsidy above – there is the operating revenue – it currenlty cost £9 return on ulsterbus from belfast to aldergrove – so thats the benchamerk for the train service to beat.

    The trick is to make the trains every 40 minutes for the same price – this would take 6 buses an hour of the M2, and (guess) 15 cabs, and then thre is the private car drop-offs

    It doable be doable – the point is that some overarching transport plan like transport21 down south is needed – and move towards seperating the infrastrucute provider from the operator is also needed. Lastly most of this railway line would be shared with the current Glenavy closed line – so
    this is additional business to this fixed infrastructure – it finding the company who can do it – Veolia with all its problems would still outshine Translink for me..

  • IJP

    BonarLaw

    There are two all-island parties in government on the island, not one.

    Sammy

    And then of course there’s Belfast-Brussels. And I mean Brussels, not southern Wallonia!

    Comrade

    Really I’d expect Belfast to be linked to all of Zurich, Vienna, Frankfurt and Munich, to maximize the options right across southern German-speaking Europe. That’s the only bit of German-speaking Europe that’s productive right now!

  • Comrade Stalin

    1) lets start by proposing that wouldn’t neet to be run by the goons at Translink – why not privatise it – better still as the line is currently closed but in working order – run it as a light rail service.

    I do not think that would help. I don’t think a private operator would touch it, without the business. There isn’t even a privately operated bus service to either airport here, as far as I know, to compete with Translink’s. That’s because making a business out of it would be hard. And the reason for that is that people seem to be happy enough either driving there or using the taxis (although, did you see the howls of anguish when Aldergrove drastically hiked their long-term parking fees lately?).

    I do think that the closure of the Lisburn-Antrim section of the railway, while a tragedy of sorts, was a financial reality associated with the government’s (the NI Executive’s!) refusal to to provide the funds to keep it open. I am sure in the future that it will reopen as the city continues to grow. At this stage, the traffic around Belfast just isn’t bad enough to really make people want to use public transport. It takes me 15 minutes to drive the six miles to work in Belfast city centre from Whiteabbey in the mornings, if I leave at 9 and go home at 6. In Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester or London that would be utterly impossible.

    Personally the privatization of Translink is an option I would consider very carefully, if I had anything to do with it. Mostly on the basis that it could not possibly get any worse.

    3) Charge a £1 levey per passenger – this give £6m
    per annum – which is a decent subsidy in anyones books – and aiports should not be allowed to grow
    without some capacity for public tansport.

    I could go along with that.

    I suggest that on top of the subsidy above – there is the operating revenue – it currenlty cost £9 return on ulsterbus from belfast to aldergrove – so thats the benchamerk for the train service to beat.

    You will probably find that the bus service is run as a fairly straight business and breaks even, like most of what Translink does. The NI government does not yet accept that subsidizing public transport leads to public benefits. I’ve always thought it funny, as in the United States (capitalism Mecca where the private car is King) city and regional governments heavily subsidize local buses, and in the case of California, trains to the hilt, knowing that in return for the investment they’re making the city an easier place to get around in and helping people spread their money around.

    The trick is to make the trains every 40 minutes for the same price – this would take 6 buses an hour of the M2, and (guess) 15 cabs, and then thre is the private car drop-offs

    40 minutes isn’t frequent enough. It needs to be 15 minutes or 20 minutes all through the day while trains are operating. If I get off my plane after a flight from New York, am I going to want to have to drag all my luggage onto a platform, wait up to 40 minutes (assuming it’s on time), and then negotiate my way onto a train, and then figure out how to get home from the destination station ? No. But it would be different if I didn’t have to wait on the train; and if there were enough trains it is less likely that they would be packed, and delays would be less of a problem.

    It doable be doable – the point is that some overarching transport plan like transport21 down south is needed – and move towards seperating the infrastrucute provider from the operator is also needed. Lastly most of this railway line would be shared with the current Glenavy closed line – so
    this is additional business to this fixed infrastructure – it finding the company who can do it – Veolia with all its problems would still outshine Translink for me..

    We can’t really compare ourselves to the Irish government and try to emulate their plans. We don’t have the cash, and we don’t have the projected economic growth to justify it. I think we need to be realistic and look at incremental improvements in the transport system, and identify the real hotspots. The commuter railway lines from Belfast to Bangor and Larne should be the focus of public transport investment around Belfast; the track should be doubled between York Road and Central, and more passing loops added between Whitehead and Larne. Passing loops should be reinstated on the Derry line as well. Bus-wise, we should be bringing in the nice long quality bus corridors with high frequency services that have worked well in Dublin. Translink should be given responsibility for bus shelters and bus trak, to stop the silly nonsense there at the moment.

    IJP, I have to confess that my desire for a link to a Munich is more to do with making it easier to attend the fantastic Oktoberfest. 🙂

  • Jim Cammy

    This is a bad day for the real Ireland. With the rugby and the hurling going south, now we have this. Yes, it is true we have Northern ne’er do wells at Shannon, but for fuck’s sake, Gerry Kelly has been to London before.
    Limerick needs more handouts. Please help.

  • In Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester or London

    In Dublin it would be impossible. In London, you wouldn’t even think about doing it because public transport is miles faster and doesn’t involve spending most of your wages on parking. In Manchester you might manage it, and in Brum it’s a piece of piss – what the Luftwaffe didn’t flatten in 1940, the planners flattened in the ’60s to build dual carriageways. And all these cities are bigger and older than Belfast.

  • gram

    I think building train links to the airports is the least of our transport worries. The vast majority of the population here live nowhere near a station. Even with 10M passengers at Aldergrove I think you’d do well making a business case to support a rail link.

    Our transport priorities should be to improve the motorway network in the North and an urban transport network for Belfast.

  • slug

    “I think building train links to the airports is the least of our transport worries. The vast majority of the population here live nowhere near a station.”

    I would dispute that.

    “Our transport priorities should be to improve the motorway network in the North and an urban transport network for Belfast.”

    Frankly I don’t agree with adding to the motorway network much beyond a bit of dualling down to Newry and Londonderry. Our roads really dont seem that crowded to justify more by way of motorways.

    Certainly more light rail in Belfast makes sense esp using the old Comber line out the Newtownards road.

  • slug

    The Strategic Review into NIR says that NIRs catchment is 75% of NI population; cities and towns covered include Belfast, Londonderry, Lisburn, Newry, Newtownabbey, Bangor, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Lurgan, Coleraine, Craigavon, Portadown, Limavady, Antrim and Larne.

  • gram

    >>”I think building train links to the airports is the least of our transport worries. The vast majority of the population here live nowhere near a station.”

    I would dispute that.
    < < I live in Belfast and wouldn't take the train to Aldergrove if it was available today for the same reasons why I don't take the bus; time, expence and inconvenience in reaching Great Victoria street. I never have a problem with conjestion when travelling to Aldergove by car. I'm afraid there are other prioities such as linking our two major cities (Belfast and Derry) by motorway. >>Frankly I don’t agree with adding to the motorway network much beyond a bit of dualling down to Newry and Londonderry. Our roads really dont seem that crowded to justify more by way of motorways.<< You obviously don't travel much beyond Belfast.

  • slug

    “You obviously don’t travel much beyond Belfast.”

    I do. NI’s motorways and roads are comparatively uncongested.

    As for your point about getting to the airport by car. What about those visiting NI who don’t have a car there? And what about people who don’t have a car?

  • gram

    >>As for your point about getting to the airport by car. What about those visiting NI who don’t have a car there? And what about people who don’t have a car?<< Thats not enough people to make a business case for a station at the international airport. Don't forget busses are also public transport and are more flexible and as environmentally friendly as trains. The whole train debate is based on the fact that other cities have train links to their airports so we should have one as well. In these cities/countries the airport train links into a city/country wide rail network. We don't have that or have the population to justify that sort of investment in rail. We should be investing in our road network and improving our bus network.

  • slug

    I am all for the bus network. In fact it was me who started this discussion with a call for a bus to go from Airport to Antrim Translink Station so one can catch a bus or train from there. That said as a regular user of NIR services, its obvious that they are overcongested and underinvested in and cover some very useful routes.

  • gram

    >>That said as a regular user of NIR services, its obvious that they are overcongested and underinvested in and cover some very useful routes.<< Are you within walking distance of a station? I'm all for improving the rail network where a clear business and/or environmental case can be made. I just don't think a station at Aldergrove can make that case.

  • The Pict

    Limerick has no MPs!

  • Aquifer

    Easyjet did more for the Union than Ian Paisley, so it will be a rich irony to have Aer Lingus finish the job of building an economy of these islands.

    The last thing I want to do after sitting on a plane for a few hours is sit on a noisy wee bus for another 40 minutes, or two or three hours when coming from Dublin Airport.

    With trains you can get up and walk about, a nice change. We should get a life and get a direct train to Aldergrove, providing ‘rail’ competition to Dublin Airport.

  • Comrade Stalin

    spending most of your wages on parking. In Manchester you might manage it, and in Brum it’s a piece of piss – what the Luftwaffe didn’t flatten in 1940, the planners flattened in the ‘60s to build dual carriageways. And all these cities are bigger and older than Belfast.

    Sammy, I have had to commute from the centre of Solihull to the environs of the airport in Birmingham. During peak time, which is between around 8:30 and 9:30 in the morning, it takes about 45 minutes. It would never take that long in Belfast, unless there was an accident. Yes, there are lots of nice swish roads around there, but in the mornings they’re jam-packed, much worse than Belfast.

    slug:

    Certainly more light rail in Belfast makes sense esp using the old Comber line out the Newtownards road.

    I would be in favour of a tram system there along the old BCDR Comber line, and not the stupid misguided bus system that they’re talking about – I think given the density of the area and the fact that it is an arterial route, mean that it would be quite successful. However, like Luas in Dublin, it has to be accepted that a large proportion of the ridership would be poached from the bus services, which are actually not too bad along the Newtownards Road.

    Aquifier:

    With trains you can get up and walk about, a nice change. We should get a life and get a direct train to Aldergrove, providing ‘rail’ competition to Dublin Airport.

    You don’t seem to be understanding the core point here. Few people would use a station at Aldergrove because there wouldn’t be a frequent service.
    The express bus to Belfast would still get to Great Victoria Street more quickly.

  • Bretagne

    SC –
    “You don’t seem to be understanding the core point here. Few people would use a station at Aldergrove because there wouldn’t be a frequent service.”

    A good point – and similar to one you made in reply to my post. so I looked at a couple of airports – Newcastle has a train service running every 7 minutes during the peak – so 40 minutes is far too long – needs to 15ish.

    Birmingham Airport does about 10m passengers a year currently (where Belfast aspires to be) and again has a rail link. The largest GB airport that is any distance from the city it is named after, and that does not have a rail link, is Bristol, as far as I know – even Cardiff has one.

    Getting to Belfast from the aiport is not a bind now I agree – but with double the passengers as per the Airports business plan – the time will come when the express bus will not get there as quickly as rail. But it does need the right investment vehicle and the right operator.

    Slug –
    “In fact it was me who started this discussion with a call for a bus to go from Airport to Antrim Translink Station so one can catch a bus or train from there”

    Agree – and it should be free – but there is no incentive for the airport to do this when they can
    make money from car-parking fees. Again I would link expansion to provision of public transport – and let that priciple drive any planning consent.

    For the airport, the break to growth in the long term is likely to be lack of rail infrastructure –
    and I think the acknowledge that in the plan.

  • Sammy, I have had to commute from the centre of Solihull to the environs of the airport in Birmingham.

    You need to do the Inner City dual-carriageway box which (in my limited experience) flows fairly well even in the morning rush. But then again the Brummies bulldozed a dozen viable inner-city communities to build it which, to my mind, is a price not worth paying.

    Did you ever see the original 1960s plans for Belfast’s Inner Ring Road? Six free flowing lanes with grade-seperated junctions along the Westlink from Broadway to York Street, over the river roughly along the alignment of the M3, and thence to Donegall Pass, Shaftesbury Square and up to Broadway again. Nice, but worth demolishing half the New Lodge, the Short Strand, the Lower Ormeau, the Lower Ravenhill, the Donegall Pass and Sandy Row to build? I don’t think so.

  • gram

    >>A good point – and similar to one you made in reply to my post. so I looked at a couple of airports – Newcastle has a train service running every 7 minutes during the peak – so 40 minutes is far too long – needs to 15ish. << Newcastle airport link is integrated into it's metro system. Belfast doesn't have a metro/rail equivalent. I know why don't we build a monorail, better still a bullet train going from Aldergrove to Belfast every 2 minutes. Who cares that traffic is at a standstill everwhere else.

  • Bretagne

    Gram –

    Fair point – but the marginal business case for building a mono rail vs using infrastructure already there would likely fail.

    Once in Belfast there is still rail links, and a bus system to plug into. It is embryonic but any rail link is better than ten of thousands of additional car journeys along road infrastructure.

    A useful line is in place – I want to see a plan to use it – Along with a link to BIA, the line scould support (with additional investment) a direct Derry/Ballymena to Dublin service without having to go through Belfast. Indeed where such a service to serve Drogheda & Dundalk it frees up the Enterprise service to be non-stop to compete with the car and take other journeys off the A1/M1 link.

    I would prefer to see an over-arching body planning this over 10-15 yrs plus -but to have a link mostly in place and not use it, let the airport grow to the point where is does become a problem is exactly, why the piecemeal approach does not work (and one of the main criticisms of the direct rule lot)

  • Shannon directors need to forcus their energies on talks with virgin atlantic, bmi, british airways, airfrance (who operatre lcy – dub routes) there must be a party interested for the same business reasons that aer lingus is apparently moving to belfast for. The snn-lhr is a very important route for the entire midewest of ireland.

    Once the route is open the midwest regions (total combined boards of various sorts ranging from tourism to business) should combine their energies and sew the irish government for allowing this to happen and the for the loss of possible revenue, continued economic growth and drop in air passengers to the midwest.

    aerlingus strategy leaves a lot to be desired, it could of course have purchased three new planes or reviewed timetables/ frequency of flights from DUB, That would have been in the interest of all regions of the country and would have offered opportunities to grow all three regions.

  • Cruimh

    “The Minister for Transport has ruled out Government intervention in the Aer Lingus – Shannon row.

    Noel Dempsey said while the move was not in line with Government policy on regional development, the company is entitled to make commercial decisions.”

    http://breaking.tcm.ie/ireland/mhcwmhauqlmh/