£3m European funding for 'hub'
Almost £3 million European funding has been allocated to help create a transport hub in Belfast and provide a high-quality connection with the Republic.
Service improvements to rail transport between the city and Dublin will make doing business between the jurisdictions more efficient, according to regional development minister Danny Kennedy.
European Commission funding worth £2.8 million will be used to take forward a technical development study.
Mr Kennedy said: "I am confident that 'the hub' will transform public transport in Belfast and provide a high quality connection to our neighbouring member state in the Republic of Ireland.
"The implications of this project are immense, with wide-ranging economic, social and environmental benefits."
The development is set to be located on a 20-acre site at the existing Europa bus centre and Great Victoria Street train station in Belfast's city centre.
Around seven million people use these facilities each year and that is estimated to increase to around 13 million passengers by 2030, Mr Kennedy's department said.
The minister added: "Today is an important milestone in the delivery of a new transport hub for Belfast following my successful £2.8 million bid to the European Commission."
He said: "Service improvements on the primary rail transport corridor between Belfast and Dublin will mean more people will be empowered to do more business, more efficiently and more often.
"This development, in one of Belfast's most socially deprived areas, will offer employment and mobility opportunities to local people while the positive environmental impacts of increasing Northern Ireland's public transport footprint will benefit everyone through lower emissions and improvements to air quality."
Integrated design consultants have been appointed to prepare a master plan and take forward the preferred design solution.
Initial concept designs are expected to be ready by the end of this year, according to Translink's website.
Construction is expected to commence in 2016/17 subject to securing the appropriate funding and planning permissions.