What we know so far ahead of Belfast Grand Central Station opening this autumn

A model of Belfast Grand Central Station
A model of Belfast Grand Central Station -Credit:Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live

Last week saw the closure of Belfast's Great Victoria Street train station after playing a leading role in the city's history since the early 1800s.

But looking to the future, there's great excitement ahead of the opening of the nearby Belfast Grand Central Station in the coming months

It's a multi-million pound project that's set to transform public transport in the city and right across Northern Ireland. It will also house the Enterprise train service to Dublin.

READ MORE: Meet the long serving staff at a Belfast train station as it closes its doors

READ MORE: How to get to and from Belfast after closure of city centre train station

The Europa bus station, which is connected to Great Victoria Street train station, will remain open before the new state-of-the art transport hub combines rail and bus services in the autumn.

Translink has introduced a revised train timetable, which will be in place until then. Its chief executive, Chris Conway, says Belfast Grand Central Station is "coming very close" to completion, when it will become the largest transport hub on the island of Ireland and one of the biggest in the UK.

With eight railway platforms and 26 bus stands, as well as facilities for bicycles and taxis, it is expected to cater for around 20 million passenger journeys a year.

The project started in 2020, with construction due to be completed by the final quarter of 2024 and the full project by next year. But there is no exact date yet for the opening of the new bus and rail centre.

Its delivery will require a period of significant transition as essential engineering works take place throughout this year and into 2025.

Intensive periods of engineering work are in progress to realign the track to serve the new station.

This will require some closures of the railway line between Belfast and Lisburn and therefore disruption to rail passengers. Bus substitution services will be put in place during these times.

The project also includes utility and significant investment in public realm improvement works to enhance walking routes, accessibility and cycling.

This will involve road and lane closures, impacting traffic within the city centre, including some alterations to Translink bus services.

Grand Central Station had previously been described as a £200 million project but last month in the Assembly, it emerged that the estimated cost has risen to £340m.

Stormont's Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd told MLAs the project is “progressing well” as he outlined how the total cost had been projected to be £295m when the full business case was approved in November 2020.

“The latest cost estimate is £340 million which is £45 million higher than the estimated cost. The vast majority of this cost increase is due to extraordinary inflation that has impacted on all major capital projects.

“The project is due to be completed by quarter four 2025 which is in line with the date indicated in the approved full business case,” he said.

The full site will include 1.3 million square feet of office, residential, student housing, retail and leisure space, as well as Saltwater Square, a new public realm space for outdoor performances and community events.

Last month, Belfast city councillors also voted for dual Irish and English language signage to be installed at the land it has responsibility for around the new station and surrounding Weaver’s Cross area.

The bulk of the site at Weavers Cross, an often forgotten corner of Belfast city centre located in the area behind the Europa Hotel, was previously dominated by warehouses for freight.

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