The Info List - Ulster Transport Authority

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The Ulster Transport Authority
Ulster Transport Authority
(UTA) ran rail and bus transport in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
from 1948 until 1966.


1 Formation and consolidation 2 Branch railway closures 3 The Benson Report 4 Split into rail and road companies 5 Notes 6 Sources and further reading 7 External links

Formation and consolidation[edit]

Disused concrete bus stop in County Down

The UTA was formed by the Transport Act 1948, which merged the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Road Transport Board (NIRTB) and the Belfast
and County Down Railway (BCDR). Added to this in 1949 was the Northern Counties Committee (NCC), owned by the British Transport Commission's Railway Executive since its previous owner, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), had been nationalised in 1948. Branch railway closures[edit] In January 1950 the UTA closed almost the entire BCDR network except the Queen's Quay, Belfast
– Bangor commuter line.[1][2] In the same year it closed the Macfin – Kilrea section of the former NCC's Derry Central Railway and the freight-only former NCC line from Limavady
to Dungiven.[2] It also withdrew passenger services from the former NCC branch lines to Cookstown, Draperstown
and Limavady
and the Magherafelt
– Kilrea section of the Derry
Central.[1] That summer it closed Northern Ireland's last 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge lines: the Ballycastle Railway
Ballycastle Railway
and the Ballymena and Larne Railway.[1] In 1954 seven 6-coach diesel units were put on the Belfast-Bangor line, making it the first completely dieselised passenger service in the British Isles.[3] In 1955 the UTA closed the (by then freight-only) branches to Cookstown
and Limavady, and the line between Castlewellan
and Newcastle, County Down
Newcastle, County Down
(which was worked by the GNR).[1] In 1957 the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Government made the Great Northern Railway Board close much of its network in the province.[1] This left no railways in many rural areas, including the whole of County Fermanagh.[2] By 1958 the GNR main line was the only remaining railway across the border between the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland. In that year what was left of the GNRB was dissolved and split between Córas Iompair Éireann (the Republic of Ireland's nationalised transport company) and the UTA. In 1959 the UTA closed the (by then freight only) remaining Magherafelt
– Kilrea section of the Derry
Central and the former GNR (by then freight only) branch from Dungannon
to Cookstown.[2] The UTA also took over the Londonderry Port
Londonderry Port
and Harbour Commissioners' dual gauge railway that linked Derry's four railway termini, and in 1962 the UTA closed this railway as well.[4]

View from south, from Armagh station with the destruction of the permanent way in evidence.

The Benson Report[edit] In 1962, on the recommendation of Dr Richard Beeching, the Government of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
commissioned a senior Coopers & Lybrand accountant, Sir Henry Benson, to report on the future of the UTA's railways. In 1963 Benson submitted his report, which recommended closing all UTA railways except the Belfast
commuter lines to Bangor and Larne and the main line between Belfast
and the Republic of Ireland, and the reduction of the main line between Portadown and Dundalk to single track.[5] Benson recommended the only reason for retaining the main line between Portadown and Dundalk was not for transport or economics but solely political. The Republic of Ireland's government objected to Benson's proposal to single the track between Portadown and Dundalk so the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Government withdrew it. Derry
had two rail links with Belfast: the former NCC main line via Coleraine and the former GNR one via Portadown. Benson's recommendation to close both lines provoked strong protest from Northern Ireland's second city and towns along both routes. The Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Government responded by retaining the former NCC main line, which was slightly the shorter of the two but also served strongly Unionist parts of County Antrim, plus the short branch between Coleraine and the seaside resort of Portrush. In 1965 the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
government implemented Benson's recommendation to close the former GNR route between Portadown and Derry, informally known as the " Derry
Road", at the cost of 400 jobs. This ended all railway services to stations including Dungannon, Omagh, Strabane, [2] and left the entire southwest of the province, including the whole of County Tyrone, with no rail services.[6] The government also closed the Belfast
Central Railway, (that Benson had recommended retaining).[7] The branch between Goraghwood and Newry Edward Street was also closed, leaving Newry
with only the inconveniently sited Newry
Main Line station some distance up a hill outside the town.[2] These closures left only the Belfast
York Road – Londonderry Waterside, Bleach Green – Larne Harbour and Coleraine – Portrush lines in service. Much of the former GNR workforce was Roman Catholic. Closure of the " Derry
Road" contributed to Catholic Irish Nationalists' sense of discrimination, leading to the emergence of the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Civil Rights Association, Campaign for Social Justice and other groups in communities such as Derry
and Dungannon. Split into rail and road companies[edit] Transport Acts in 1967 split the UTA into road and rail operations, the bus operations being taken over by a new company called Ulsterbus in the same year. The rail operations temporarily became Ulster Transport Railways (UTR) before being taken over by Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) in 1968.

Portadown with former GNR (potential) line to Armagh.


^ a b c d e Baker 1972, p. 207. ^ a b c d e f Hajducki 1974, p. 39. ^ Cooke, B.W.C., ed. (June 1954). "Diesel Progress in Ireland". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 100 no. 638. Westminster: Tothill Press. p. 409.  ^ Baker 1972, p. 209. ^ "Ulster Transport Authority". Irish Railways: 1946 – 1996. Irish Railway Record Society. 7 January 2004. Retrieved 14 September 2010.  ^ "Closure of the ' Derry
Road' a great loss to Ireland – Derry Journal". Retrieved 20 August 2013.  ^ "Ulster Transport Authority". Irish Railways: 1946 – 1996. Irish Railway Record Society. 7 January 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 

Sources and further reading[edit]

Baker, Michael H.C. (1972). Irish Railways since 1916. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0282-7.  FitzGerald, J.D. (1995). The Derry
Road. Colourpoint Transport. Gortrush: Colourpoint Press. ISBN 1-898392-09-9.  Flanagan, Colm (2003). Diesel Dawn. Newtownards: Colourpoint Books. ISBN 1-904242-08-1.  Hajducki, S. Maxwell (1974). A Railway Atlas of Ireland. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-5167-2. 

External links[edit]

Irish Railway Record Society: Ulster Transport Authority Irish Railwayana: UTA

v t e

History of bus transport in the United Kingdom


Charabanc John Greenwood


British Electric Traction British Transport Commission Defunct manufacturers Former PTE bus operators National Bus Company (UK) Scottish Bus Group Transport Holding Company Tilling Group Ulster Transport Authority


Bus deregulation Former municipal bus companies History of the PTE bus operations


History of public transport authorities in London AEC Routemaster Buses in London Former London bus operators London Country Bus Services London Omnibus Traction Society London General Omnibus Company Privatisation of London bus services Star Omnibus Company

Parliamentary Acts

London Traffic Act 1924 Road Traffic Act 1930 Transport Act 1947 Transport Act 1962 Transport Act 1968 London Regional Transport Act 1984 Transport Act 1985

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