Northern Ireland

'Deficit' in Translink's finances highlighted in DfI report

Image caption The Department for Infrastructure said the continued provision of public transport services would be "challenging"

Stormont's Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has said it is "actively working" with the Department of Finance to "seek to redress the deficit" within Translink's finances.

DfI said that in 2015-16, the annual subsidy provided to Translink for the public transport network was reduced by some £13m.

It said those funds have not been "restored recurrently".

It said the continued provision of public transport will be "challenging".

The details emerged in the department's annual report and accounts published earlier this month.

The department said it remained Translink's primary source of capital funding, and one of its main sources of revenue income.

It said that in 2015-16, the annual subsidy given to Translink to provide the public transport network in Northern Ireland was "reduced by some £13m by the then-minister following a difficult budget settlement".

DfI said those funds have not been "restored recurrently which has led to a situation where the company's financial reserves have been diminished despite making significant efficiencies".

The department said these "issues could become acute in 2019-20 as the company may breach its working capital threshold".

'Significantly depleted'

"In any event, it could not sustain a deficit in 2020-21 as its reserves will have been significantly depleted," it added.

DfI said that the "continued provision of public transport services, particularly maintenance of the railway infrastructure will be challenging".

The department also said in its report that Translink, "in a very challenging environment, has managed to increase public transport usage with significant increases in passenger numbers on bus and rail over the past year".

Image caption The Department for Infrastructure's budget has been reduced by £31m for 2019/20

'Strike a balance'

It also said maintaining current levels of service which were dependent on in-year funding in 2018-19 "will be unlikely".

It added that the 2019-20 DfI capital budget decided on by the Secretary of State represents a £31m reduction from the budget allocation for 2018-2019.

The DfI said that in determining its allocation of the funds provided to it, it "has had to strike a balance between maintaining existing infrastructure in water and sewerage, the road network and public transport, and new development, particularly in pursuit of the draft Programme for Government outcomes".

The Department for Infrastructure and Translink have been contacted for comment.

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