Translink recently welcomed representatives from the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) on-site at the Belfast Transport Hub to view progress and learn more about the impact this major project will have on the construction industry and wider economy of Northern Ireland as we build back from the pandemic
Initial enabling works are progressing well at the 8-hectare site in Belfast City Centre, ahead of the planned beginning of main works in early 2022. The project is due to complete in late 2024.
The Belfast Transport Hub is a Flagship Project prioritised by the Northern Ireland Executive and will deliver a modern, high quality integrated transport hub to enhance local and international connectivity with bus, coach and rail links across Northern Ireland and beyond, including the relocation of the Enterprise service. It will provide additional transport capacity and replace the existing Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street Train Station.
The facility will sit at the heart of a new city neighbourhood known as Weavers Cross, a name which reflects the area’s rich industrial heritage. It will be a transport-led regeneration project, fitting a global mould of public transport solutions being at the heart of urban regeneration and acting as destinations not only for travel, but for working, shopping, employment, education and living.
John Glass, Translink’s Director of Infrastructure and Projects, said: ‘‘The Belfast Transport Hub and associated Weavers Cross development will represent a new beginning for public transport, not just in Belfast but across Northern Ireland. It will be a fully multi-modal transport facility, a highly impressive gateway to Belfast with increased passenger capacity and active travel options, which will encourage a healthier, greener society, as well as being a catalyst for development and regeneration.
‘‘The project is a technically complex one and has required us to work within and beyond a number of constraints, but Translink and our Integrated Design Team (IDT) have developed a scheme which will enable construction of the Hub in a live operational (bus and rail) environment.
‘‘The Belfast Transport Hub brings with it huge economic potential for the city and Northern Ireland as a whole, creating jobs and investment, as well as being a huge vote of confidence in a post-pandemic society. We are delighted with the level of support that has been received from a broad range of stakeholders, including political leaders, business and environmental organisations and above all, the local community.
‘‘We are grateful for the support of CEF for this major project, the largest integrated transport facility on the island of Ireland and due to open in 2024. The Hub will provide approximately 400 jobs and provide a major boost for the construction industry locally, alongside the added commitment to education and skills training for apprenticeships and new entrant opportunities for local people. Translink is committed to Buy Social provisions and Training Academies in co-operation with Belfast City Council and other stakeholders.’’
Mark Spence, CEF Managing Director, said: ‘‘We were delighted to visit the site of the Belfast Transport Hub and learn more about this exciting development, the single largest construction project in Northern Ireland for many years.
‘‘As with most sectors of our economy, the pandemic has been a challenge for the local construction industry but there is cause for optimism as we look ahead to a post-COVID world. The Belfast Transport Hub and associated Weavers Cross development on the wider site offers tremendous opportunities for the sector in the months and years ahead, not only in jobs but also in training and apprenticeship options and it was good to learn more about the wider Weavers Cross masterplan and the pipeline of employment opportunities that it will bring, alongside the Belfast Transport Hub itself.
‘‘Construction and public transport act as drivers of our economy for the long-term and it’s been great to get a first-hand view of a site that will not only transform Belfast city centre and help the host communities reach their full potential but act as a driver of the local construction trade and provide a whole new beginning for bus and rail travel in Northern Ireland, driving a recovery with active travel at its heart.’’