Belfast Telegraph

Whitemountain Quarries deal signals start of Belfast rapid transport system's next stage

By John Mulgrew

A Belfast firm has been awarded a major contract to begin work on the latest stage of the city's rapid transport system with work due to start later this month, it can be revealed.

Whitemountain Quarries - which is part of the Lagan Group - has been awarded the tender to start work on the Divis Street/Falls Road scheme, which had been pushed back.

The Belfast Rapid Transport System will see three routes - linking the city with areas including Dundonald, the west and Titanic Quarter - created in Belfast dedicated to carrying 'bendy buses' into the city centre, accommodating up to 100 passengers each.

The latest work - which kicks off later this month - will include carriageway widening, extension of bus lanes, resurfacing, street lighting, tree-planting and landscaping.

Work has already begun on a number of areas as part of the ambitious project.

That includes the 520-space Dundonald Park and Ride site - which has now opened - along with completed work on the Upper Newtownards Road between Sandown Road and Knock Road.

Buses will run into the city centre from each of the spurs, culminating in a circular city centre route with five halts.

A spokesman from the Department for Regional Development confirmed that Whitemountain had secured the new contract.

"Following a recent tender competition, Whitemountain Quarries Limited was appointed on September 8, as the contractor for the works on the section of the Belfast Rapid Transport route on Divis Street/Falls Road between Millfield and Grosvenor Road.

"The start date for this contract is September 21, and it is anticipated that the works will take approximately one year to complete."

Works are currently ongoing on the section of the route at the Falls Road, between Grosvenor Road and Whiterock Road.

The works, which started in September 2014, are scheduled to be completed next month.

A number of areas are due to be completed in the next six to nine months, the Department for Regional Development said.

Whitemountain Quarries was unable to comment about the details surrounding the contract or its value.

The rapid transit system was expected to start operating in the autumn of 2017, but it's not clear whether this target date will be achieved.

The system is set to use articulated buses - with three double doors - running on hybrid diesel electric technology.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.