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Discussion Starter #1
Does anybody have any updates or info on the Belfast Rapid Transit System connecting Dundonald, Titanic Quarter and Belfast City Centre? Have any plans been released yet?

I understand light rail has been ruled out in favour of bendy buses similar to the one below...

 

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The details of the February 08 plans for the rapid transport schemes are on this page
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=737652

Then there is talk about the November 08 press releases here
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=28675006#post28675006

There is more talk about the scheme in the rest of the Belfast Transport Developments thread. I havent heard any info recently, and I would wonder about the projects security in these government penny pinching times. I do know that residents in East belfast are/ or have set up a pressure group to oppose the EWAY as it will be built on a park
 

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I don't understand why there is opposition to the eway as it ruins a greenway... the greenway only exists cause it was reserved for transport use as it is a former railway... if it was a strip of land through east belfast it would have probably been made into housing or a relief road by now... it is meant for transport use!!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Does anybody know if they will bridge/tunnel any of the major junctions to allow the system to run independently? For example Knock Road, Holywood Road/Newtownards road (Holywood Arches) and the Sydenham Bypass to reach the TQ?
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
My idea would be to dedicate 2 lanes on May Street to the system, have the terminus at Donegal Square West. Run the trams/buses down May Street towards the Waterfront then up Oxford Street towards Queens Bridge, across Queens Bridge then intergrate the system into the existing railway line. There's plenty of room to add more track right up to Bridge End halt. The system would then leave the railway at Bridgend halt.
 

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The govt have been very tight lipped on how the buses will cross roads. The likes of Holywood Arches and the Springfield Rd are major junctions that will be hard to cross without causing traffic chaos- remember how the arches used to be a proper rail bridge. I doubt the public of today would tolerate loads of bridges around the city. Perhaps the DRD will tunnel, although knowing Belfast they will go the cheap option and just have special traffic lights for the buses (even the LUAS has to obey red lights sometimes). There must be several dozen junctions that they'll have to negotiate, but no info is forthcoming.

Sydenham Bypass is a funny one. They intend to knock down Dee Street bridge and build another bridge for cars nearby, though I see no reason why they dont retain the old bridge for the buses, ditto the station street flyover that is also scheduled for demolition. unecessarily building new bridges would be the height of foolishness though without joined up thinking between the various departments who knows what will happen. I dislike how the government keeps people in the dark.

As for the Greenway, as little as 20 years ago they were still considering using it for a motorway. The nicest part of it is the Bloomfield to Knock carriageway section, which even without the 100's of trees they recently cut down to lay sewer pipes is still a lovely area that looks like a proper park. Once you get more suburban than that path is increasingly barren and souless, large parts of which were only opened to the public 6 months ago. The DRD wishes to keep a cycle lane alongside the busway, although in parts I'm sure its too narrow to accomadate both. I think this is the main reason for local opposition, ie the loss possible loss of open space. There would of course be some indefensible NIMBY hysteria, but I suspect most concern is genuine. No doubt some people (rightly or wrongly) fear large tracts of their garden will be vested. Paradoxically though one of their complaints is that it isnt a tram.

I'm in 2 minds about the EWAY. It will be a shame if it makes the cycle path a no go zone for pedestrians. And of course it isnt going to be on par with the LUAS or London's DLR. On the other hand Belfast and surrounding towns could really do with rapid transport, even 2nd rate ones like this. However there's also the problem that at times it bypasses popular places which would be ideal for stops, like Ballyhackamore & Stormont & Ballybeen. This wouldnt be much of an issue, apart from the fact that the govt will dramatically reduce the amount of buses in the area. This will be bad if you live in an isolated street far away from one of the EWAY stations, which is likely to apply to thousands of households. And of course the refusal to send these buses to Comber/ Newtownards, City Airport/ Holywood Exchange, City Hospital, Andytown/Twinbrook drastically reduces the chance these buses have of being a success. There are some issues I have with the opposition though. Some of their complaints are lies. They portray the scheme as if it was a busy road cutting through East Belfast. There will only 2 buses driving past every 5 minutes, whereas a road would have, what, 200 cars?
 

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My idea would be to dedicate 2 lanes on May Street to the system, have the terminus at Donegal Square West. Run the trams/buses down May Street towards the Waterfront then up Oxford Street towards Queens Bridge, across Queens Bridge then intergrate the system into the existing railway line. There's plenty of room to add more track right up to Bridge End halt. The system would then leave the railway at Bridgend halt.
I suppose they could but maybe the fact that the railway is elevated around Queens bridge would make it difficult or expensive to merge it with the railway. Also remember that it is a glorified bus so it couldnt go on the train tracks, if that is what you mean. You're idea about going along May street & Queens Bridge is almost certainly what they will do, though instead of 2 lanes they will likely use a one way system with another lane going up Chichester. They're using Sydenham road once they cross the river, probably because its a big wide road that doesnt see enough use at present so taking away a lane wont harm traffic. They could also put a station at the Oddysey, where you could wait for the CITI, offering an almost direct link from East Belfast to Titanic Quarter. It remains to be seen whether the government is smart enough to do this though.
 

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My family come from Ballymena and the last few times I was there, I noticed Wrightbus testing similar to the proposed buses, and they really don't look half bad... Perhaps it's because they say "Las Vegas" on them, but I don't necessarily know if this proposal is so awful.

Firstly, they will cost a lot less but do the same thing as trams, secondly they will take less time to put into place and thirdly, if they need to change/add routes the cost and time involved will take a lot less time than it would for trams.

Belfast is still a very small city and is disjointed coming out of the city centre, these could really help in revitalising areas by promoting regeneration and filling all the gaps which currently blight our city. These should be flexible enough in moving with the times and helping out areas as and when needed, providing a first class transport system for all of Belfast.

It may seem half-hearted that these have been proposed instead of a Luas type scheme, but we are in an entirely different situation than Dublin and should recognise it. I love trams and think they can make a city, but the important thing should be having a public transport system which works and we are proud of, lets hope one day we can achieve it.

Below is an image from the Wrightbus website showing the Las Vegas bus

 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I understand there is a bus available that can run on fixed rail and freely on the road? If this is possible I think part of the route to should be fixed rail, especially from Dee Street to Dundonald because this will ‘future proof’ the system for when Belfast will require a Luas type network.

I agree with alot of what your saying Citybus especially your point about the route bypassing places like Ballyhackamore, Stormont Estate etc.
 

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The EWAY bypasses places like Ballyhackamore & Stormont is because the original train route bypassed these places. That wasnt so bad for the train, because these areas were less important back then, and the main purpose of the train was to go to newtownards, comber, downpatrick etc, not serve the suburbs. So the EWAY could be accused of using a train style route (limited stops) for what is meant to be an urban service. And for the government the great thing about it is that the Victorians have done most of the work for them.

I know diverting the EWAY to places like Ballyhack & Stormont isnt that practical, and if they put stops in the right places those destinations will only be 5 mins walk away. Missing out the populated parts of dundonald on the other hand seems more sinister.



If you look at the far right of the picture they have a dotted line. This is where the EWAY diverts from the railway to a new link road. This road seems to bypass a major housing estate, to arrive at a park & ride on the dual carriageway. The terminus at the park & ride will probably have limited use to pedestrians due to its very poor location.

The worrying thing about this is that this new Millmount link road is a revision of the 1980's motorway plan that was shelved. Rather than bring the EWAY to existing residential areas, they are putting it on this link road that no doubt was researched 20 years ago. It looks like they are going for the inferior option as at least they dont have to survey it in detail, whereas the Millmount link road- however unsuitable, is nevertheless a bargain.
 

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I think the rapid transport system should be based on the metro in Porto. Ive been to Porto and the system there is first class. operates at surface level but does go under ground to take short cuts or at certain stations. Porto is much the same size as belfast and has 5 lines conecting the metropolitan area.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That is quite impressive. I love the finish, especially how they integrated the cobble stones into the track.

The finish & quality of the Luas in Dublin is equally as impressive I think.


 

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I know its almost cliche that if a capital city is to become a fully fledged european city it needs a tram system not only for the potential postcard sales with a picture of a tram going along the front of city hall but for infrastructure. Infrastructure attracts business and cause a population increase. belfast has a 3 train tracks that have the potential to serve the city as a metro if their routes could be sexed up. an express service to west belfast could operate if the tram ran alongside the NIR track to lisburn. or the shore road and east belfast could be served by a similar line. I would love to see a line that streches from east to west and a line that cover north to south with connections to NIR and Bus and Airport...a boy can dream.

im in new york for a year and ive been here for 2 months already but cant wait to get back to belfast to see the changes. im on this site everyday to see whats happening
 

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I may have a simple idea of things here but are they not constructing huge tunnels under the city at the mo for the sewers. Does this not mean that it is possible to construct tunnels for a metro system which is underground in the city centre. Tbh if I was in a position of power my first plan would be to invest in the railways. Expand into armagh, tyrone, fermanagh with the possibility of linking up with sligo and the atlantic coast.

A new Central station would be good also. I read in the Metropolitan Transport plan that they plan to build a Station on the Grosvenor Road where the Telephone Exchange is. This would be Excellent as it would be passed by the future WWAY, close to city hall, close to the Royal Hospital and close to the newest proposal for the national stadium at Linfield off the Donegal Rd and Sandy Row. If this could be spead-up then the whole city would benefit and it could tie in well with the mass redevelopment plans for the west of the city.
 

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I don't think the building of an underground is warranted for a city of Belfasts size. Certainly an underground would be amazing but the cost of construction would be far more than planting a tram system into the city
 

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My suggestion would be a system similar to that in Rennes in france. It is smaller than Belfast and has an excellent system. hate to say that the french have a better grasp of sustainable planning than we do.
 

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I think they should make the WWAY & EWAY one and the same, so people wouldnt have to change at Europa, provided that you wouldnt have to buy 2 tickets. Symbolically it would be good to have a route that crosses the city centre, and I dont see why it couldnt be done.

I dont see the point of moving to the telephone exchange, it's virtually the same location as the current station
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Great Victoria Street is a five minute walk from the City Hall. You won’t get any closer to central Belfast than that. However I would support developing Great Victoria Street station into a large and modern terminus where cross border trains would terminate instead of Central Station.
 

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It is the same location as the current station but there is simply more land available there for a larger terminus but thats not to say that it couldn't still be connected to the Europa.
 

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Belfast would be better to go for light rail than Ftr buses. We have them in Leeds- they are good, but they're essentially just buses operating the same bus routes that existed before. They are nowhere near a replacement for light rail at all.
 
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