Belfast Telegraph

Waterside station to be new Translink transport hub


By John Mulgrew

Translink is planning to develop a new transport hub for Londonderry, its boss has said.

Chief executive Chris Conway says he has plans for an "integrated transport hub" in the city.

Mr Conway told the Belfast Telegraph the new hub would be based at the city's train station in the Waterside area.

The majority of Londonderry's bus links operate across the other side of the River Foyle at the company's cityside base.

"There's a project to put in an integrated transport hub in Londonderry. That's at quite an advanced stage," he said.

"It will be smaller, using the old (train) station, and developing that."

Mr Conway said he's also advancing plans for a £150m transport hub for Belfast.

The Belfast Transport Hub would be based at the current Great Victoria station.

"We are currently doing the detailed design work and we go to consultation on that shortly," he said.

"We'll hopefully submit our master plan early next year, and by the middle of next year, hopefully shovel ready."

Initial plans for the Belfast Hub were first announced in 2010.

The all-in-one facility would be built in the area around Great Victoria Street and the Grosvenor Road that currently houses separate bus and rail stations and adjacent land owned by operator Translink.

The proposal would utilise part of the extensive site at Grosvenor Road owned by Translink, together with the existing facilities at Glengall Street, which comprise the Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street Train station.

But while plans have been pushed forward for the scheme, the £150m project will still rely on funding from Stormont, if it's to go ahead. And Mr Conway said that Translink is also planning to extend its bus services to Belfast International Airport.

But he said a direct train service to Belfast International Airport is "not a priority".

"It will be a double-decker bus with leather seats, USB charging points and wifi," he said.

A former Tata boss in Northern Ireland, Mr Conway has been in the role of chief executive of Translink for a year.

He said he's having to challenge something of a stigma that public transport has here, unlike bigger cities such as London.

"I think there is (a stigma), but I hope we are slowly changing people's views on that," he said.

"Some of the services like the Goldline, which is a bus, which supplements our rail network. There isn't the same type of association.

"Over time, we are trying to change people's minds."

The bus and train operator reported a pre-tax hit of £10.5m for 2015/16, with the loss to be covered by its cash reserves, which now sit at around £40m.

Passenger numbers fell from 80 million to 78.7 million during the period, which saw revenue of £202.9m.

Translink said the losses should be set within the context of the £16m reduction in aid received from the State since 2013.

Belfast Telegraph