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Translink boss says Belfast Transport Hub will ‘create a gateway’ to NI

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Translink boss says Belfast Transport Hub will ‘create a gateway’ to NI

February 21
15:00 2022
Minister Nichola Mallon, Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive and representatives from Farrans Sacyr JV, GRAHAM and Babcock as construction begins on the Transport Hub

As construction begins on the new £175 million Belfast Transport Hub, Translink’s CEO says the project will offer “lots of opportunities to enhance public transport and active travel” in Northern Ireland.

The new multi-modal Transport Hub will replace the existing Europa and Great Victoria Street bus and rail stations and will provide greater capacity with an increase to 26 bus stands, 8 railway platforms, enhanced walking and cycling connectivity, greater comfort and accessibility.

The Weavers Cross development delivered as part of the project will regenerate the lands around the transport hub and facilitate economic growth and urban regeneration.

Chris Conway, Group Chief Executive of Translink, told Belfast Live that it will be exciting to see the new site start to take shape over the next few years.

He said: “We’ve actually been working away for the last two years on the enabling work which is to clear the site, do the demolition and redirect some culverts and utilities – it has been ongoing all through Covid and the team has worked hard to make sure that was all done

“It’s great now to announce the main contract has started now and see the main project come out of the ground. You will see the new concourse and the actual station start to take shape.

“Behind that, we have also started all of the rail systems work as well so all the work to realign the railway and all the signalling work that needs to go along with it as well so I think over the next 12 months, we will see a massive change to the site.”

The project will deliver an integrated transport facility delivering top-class customer experience including enhanced cross border connectivity.

“It will have major benefits – our networks, both bus and rail, is like a wheel and the new station is the hub where everything will branch out from and reach across Northern Ireland.

“By putting in this new hub, significantly increasing the capacity in it, will allow us right across our rail network to increase frequency and capacity and allow us to increase our bus capacity, primarily on Goldline right across Northern Ireland,” he explained.

Weavers Cross will be a “modern and integrated” station that is set to be the largest on the island of Ireland.

Mr Conway continued: “It will use all the latest technology, a much enhanced retail offering, community space and also integrating cycling into it as well so it is truly an integrated transport hub – lots of opportunities to enhance public transport and active travel right across Northern Ireland.

“Because we have done so much of this enabling work, it means the contractor can get on-site now and get work started straight away – they’ll begin to do piling within the next couple of months. We would plan for the transition from the old station to the new station in the summer of 2024 for the project to be complete by 2025.

“There is a lot of work to do over the next three to four years but we will certainly see real progress on the site now and we are very committed to those time scales and that is what we are working towards.”

He added: “It is a major civil engineering project and we anticipate 500 jobs during the construction phases and it certainly would be one of the biggest engineering jobs on the island of Ireland over the next number of years. It’s great to see as we are coming out of the health crisis projects like this starting and creating jobs and let people see the opportunities that there will be in the future.”

Translink is also working with the community and Belfast City Council to look at the social benefits of the project and to ensure they can bring new skills and opportunities to local people who work on the project and beyond its completion.

He explained that they have plans in place to manage and use the transport network in a different way during construction so that people can still travel into the city and “keep disruption to a minimum”.

“Until 2024, we are planning on doing all of the work so that there wouldn’t be any disruption to services – there may be some impact of routes being slightly rediverted or passengers coming off services having to take a different route to walk out of the station for example,” Mr Conway said.

“Most of our railway work will be done at night time and when we would be doing closures anyway, for example Christmas time, so we are trying to limit it to that. As we head towards 2024 when we cut over from the old railway to the new one, then there will be a blockade for five or six weeks when we do that.”

He continued: “We are working on a regeneration project for the area because we will free up quite a bit of space around the station and we are working with a master developer to help us regenerate the area and look for opportunities for business and residents space to be developed.

“I think we will be able to have a really future-proof and advanced station for Belfast and Northern Ireland and create a gateway for people to see and visit.”

Source BelfastLive

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