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£120m would go well towards getting Royal Exchnage started. I think this is roughly what DSD are supposed to be committing but had reallocated in their budget a year or two ago...
The last thing that Belfast needs right now is a massive retail led development. especially when we have units on Donegall Place and Royal Avenue lying empty, Victoria Square still hasn't reached 100% occupancy after 4 years, and hundreds of apartments in the city centre without owners or tenants.

I'd rather money be spent on infrastructure such as roads, rail and public transport.
 

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The last thing that Belfast needs right now is a massive retail led development. especially when we have units on Donegall Place and Royal Avenue lying empty, Victoria Square still hasn't reached 100% occupancy after 4 years, and hundreds of apartments in the city centre without owners or tenants.

I'd rather money be spent on infrastructure such as roads, rail and public transport.
jeez its not like they're going to be able to knock the thing up in 6 months. There will need to be vesting etc, which will take a long time. Even if the whole thing started now it would probably be finished by 2015/16 at best. Could be a very different landscape at that stage - just as 2012 is very different to 2006/7!

Also. they could reconfigure the proposals as what Belfast will need if it is to attract FDI is Grade A office space - so less retail and more mixed uses.

Someone needs to take a punt and speculate a little, we are always playing catch up here.
 

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Motorists warned of delays during Belfast roadworks


Motorists using Belfast city centre are warned to expect delays in the coming weeks due to a series of roadworks.

New bus and cycle lanes are being introduced and additional pedestrian crossings are to be erected.

The aim of the scheme is to encourage people to abandon their cars and either use public transport, cycle or walk.

There will be off-peak lane closures and restrictions during the work which will begin shortly and last until the end of July.

Priority

The city centre roadworks are part of the Department for Regional Development's (DRD) ongoing Belfast on the Move masterplan.

It will give higher priority to public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.

The department said about 30,000 vehicles use the streets on either side of Belfast City Hall every day, but 60% of them are through traffic with no destination in the city centre.

It is urging those motorists to use alternative routes or allow extra time for their journey.

It advised drivers who travel from east Belfast through the city centre via May Street and Howard Street to consider using the M3/Westlink or Dunbar Link instead.

DRD's director of transport projects, Ciaran de Búrca, said: "This is the first step in delivering a city centre where access by public transport is given a much higher priority and the street environment is tailored to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists rather than the private car.

"Belfast on the Move will help over 40% of households in Belfast who do not have access to a private car and therefore rely on public transport.

"More bus lanes mean public transport will be quicker and more efficient," he said.

From BBC
 

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Why hasn't there been any progress on a halt at Belfast City airport? Have people just forgotten about this?

How much would it realistically cost? Essentially all that is needed is a footbridge over the Sydenham bypass with an accessible lift, two platforms and new signals on the track. Surely less than a million?

I know the argument has always been there isn't the passenger numbers at Belfast City airport to make a halt sustainable however you look at Southampton airport, it's has a halt with direct trains to London, Southampton City Centre and the Midlands from it. Southampton has less passengers numbers than Belfast City airport.
 

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Discussion Starter · #105 ·
Just up the road from the airport Tesco were forced to fund the new road junction at Tillysburn in order to get planning permission. Why this method wasn't used with the airport's new terminal is the 64million dollar question. Maybe I should do a Freedom of Information request to find out what they were thinking of.
 

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I understand in the next decade or so railway stations and halts have to be fully accessible by disabled people. Many stations/halts aren't accessible at all. You look at the Sydenham halt, if you were a disabled passenger wanting to go to Bangor it would absolutely impossible. So it's going to cost the government millions to upgrade stations/halts with lifts, ramps etc. To save the government millions, they could simply close Sydenham halt and rebuilt a fully accessible halt 1000m down the road towards the airport. A halt which would serve the airport but also serve the community of Sydenham.
 

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Not just Belfast related but worthy of mention. Though I agree with the Greens, the electrification shouldn't be put off until 2030ish


Plans for 21st century rail network on right lines but don’t go far enough: Greens

Northern Ireland’s entire rail network could be electrified as part of a major investment package, Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has announced.

Proposals to electrify lines would cost £350m and deliver a greener and more cost-effective service.

Electrification is one of eight packages put out for consultation on Monday to give the public their view on future investment.

The consultation looks at projected future demand and sets out the cost of the eight different proposals which include ideas such as electrifying the network, extending the network to Donegal and building a spur that would link Belfast International Airport with the city.

While Mr Kennedy urged the public to have their say in the future of our railway services, the Green Party warned that the plans lacked ambition.

Green Party MLA Steven Agnew welcomed plans to electrify the rail network but urged Mr Kennedy to press ahead instead of delaying it until 2030, as outlined in the consultation document.

“It is clear that Northern Ireland’s rail infrastructure has suffered due to decades of neglect and significant investment is now needed to bring it into line with other comparable areas in Europe,” Mr Agnew said.

“For example, while 40% of the UK’s rail network is currently electrified, in Northern Ireland the ambition to move to an electrified network is deferred until 2030/35. But electrification can lead to at least a 20% reduction in running costs, offer superior performance and is less damaging to the environment.

“So while we welcome the eventual move to an electrified network in Northern Ireland, we would like to see that process expedited. We need to break our current expensive addiction to fossil fuels, and public transport will play a key role in moving people in Northern Ireland away from private vehicle use.

“Consumers want a viable and affordable alternative and this will only be achieved by developing an extensive, reliable and affordable public transport network.”

Mr Agnew said there is also latent demand in areas that are not included in the network, such as a link to airports and across the west. The public consultation document suggests that links to the west and Donegal will not be economically viable and that adding a spur to Belfast International Airport will not provide a more cost-effective service than what is offered by bus.

“There will always be a continuous need to renew the train fleet, to maintain and upgrade existing lines, and to modernise stations as well as to keep under review opportunities to expand the network,” he said.

“Looking forward over the next 20 years, there has to be a strategic direction to determine the priority in which we should tackle new railways projects. Recently I have received suggestions from interested parties as to how the railways network might be developed.”

Ireland's first railways were built in the 1830s and expanded to reach a peak in the early 1900s, when more than 1,000 miles of track served the north east alone. Rail gradually lost out on the battle with road for passenger and freight custom and a number of railway systems were shut down between the 40s and 60s.

The network now offers 211 route miles of track linking Belfast along five lines with Londonderry, Portrush, Bangor, Larne and Portadown/Newry extending south to Dublin. The Executive is providing capital grant aid to NIR at a rate of £44m per annum.

The consultation period on the eight packages will run until April 12, 2013. The public can request the document by telephoning the department on 028 90 540468, or by emailing [email protected] or by visiting the DRD website at http://www.drdni.gov.uk/publications.


Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/n...far-enough-greens-16261622.html#ixzz2I8wn70F3
 

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I'd agree with Agnew and the Greens on this as well - electrification of railways is a great way to get the most out of existing rail lines. It's ridiculous that the only stretch of electrified rail on this island is between Malahide and Greystones (and Howth). Belfast and Cork Suburban Rail at the very least should also be electrified along with select intercity routes (Dublin-Belfast, Dublin-Cork, Belfast-Derry). As Agnew says, they can run 20% cheaper than diesel, are more reliable and produce environmental benefits by cutting greenhouse emissions and alleviating air pollution in our towns and cities.

One thing I'd like cleared up by Belfasters re transport - do actually have some form of guided bus line - like a tram except it's a bus attached to an overhead electric wire following a guided route? I saw it mentioned somewhere that you did but googling to find further information has proved fruitless as I'm directed to lots of historic information about 19th century trams.
 

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I'd agree with Agnew and the Greens on this as well - electrification of railways is a great way to get the most out of existing rail lines. It's ridiculous that the only stretch of electrified rail on this island is between Malahide and Greystones (and Howth). Belfast and Cork Suburban Rail at the very least should also be electrified along with select intercity routes (Dublin-Belfast, Dublin-Cork, Belfast-Derry). As Agnew says, they can run 20% cheaper than diesel, are more reliable and produce environmental benefits by cutting greenhouse emissions and alleviating air pollution in our towns and cities.

One thing I'd like cleared up by Belfasters re transport - do actually have some form of guided bus line - like a tram except it's a bus attached to an overhead electric wire following a guided route? I saw it mentioned somewhere that you did but googling to find further information has proved fruitless as I'm directed to lots of historic information about 19th century trams.
No we don't. They were scrapped in the 60's
 

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Discussion Starter · #114 ·
I think what Dublinia is referring to are Trolleybuses. They were what replaced trams when Britain got rid of their fleet, which were in turn decommissioned in the '70's to be replaced by boring old buses. The 70's era trolleybuses offered great acceleration on steep hills and gave off no pollution in the city, but they were prone to falling off the cables and the driver had to waste a lot of time putting the conductor back on the wires using a bamboo stick.

The modern trolleybuses of today are excellent machines which unlike trams have a short battery which means if a car blocks the tracks, can quickly get off the cables and drive on ordinary roads for at least 1/4 of a mile. Unfortunately British transport authorities rarely take any notice of the fact that trolleybuses work well in Europe (not invented here syndrome), and instead impose the vastly inferior guided buses instead. Belfast may receive a guided bus network in the near future. It was either that, a tram, or an ordinary bus. A trolleybus was never under consideration. Which begs the question, maybe the team behind the proposal aren't very clued up in transport planning. But it looks like people are starting to wake up to the technology- Leeds is looking to get one in the near future.

As for the electric trains, they have the ability to increase the frequency of services ever so slightly, something that the government hasn't mentioned. That should be the priority of improving the underdeveloped train system. In any case electrification is unlikely to happen if the train fleet has another decade or two before they fall apart
 

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That's very interesting, citybus. These new trolleybuses sound like something which could be adopted on BRT-style dedicated lanes for bus transport - the short battery is a great advantage and provides a flexibility absent from other solutions.

While looking for answers about the trolleybuses, I happened upon the Metro bus website and it strikes me that my city could do with something like that. The top 12 routes are separated out from local services and given there own branding, priority, capacity etc. to provide good services on busy routes. The 145, 46A and some other routes in Dublin could benefit from being identified as Metro-style routes down here. You could be waiting five minutes for your bus and 6 46as/145s could pass. These type of routes would be even more widely used if given the proper prominence of the sort enjoyed by Metro routes.
 

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Translink gets £5.8m in EU funding for 53 buses


An EU investment of £5.8m has been secured to help meet the cost of 53 recently purchased Translink buses and coaches.

The Department for Regional Development (DRD) and the Department for Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI) worked together to arrange the investment.

The DRD will match the EU funds, secured through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland which is administered by DETI, with another £5.8m.

The EU investment has been used in the purchase of 39 Goldline coaches and 14 double deck metro buses.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said obtaining the funding was "very welcome news".

"With parts of the contract for the work to supply the Metro buses going to Wrightbus in Ballymena, there are clear benefits to the Northern Ireland economy and the investment will undoubtedly help support local jobs," she said.

"Securing the EU funding for the project demonstrates good inter-departmental cooperation in addressing key executive priorities."

The new coaches and buses came into service over the last few months and are being used in Northern Ireland and on cross border routes.
 

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Minister praises speed of Shore Road improvements

Work on a £50m scheme to upgrade the Shore Road at Greenisland is progressing at an "impressive" speed, Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has said.

Mr Kennedy made the remark following a visit to review progress at the road improvement measures.

The contract is now 26 weeks into a tight 120 week programme which involves upgrading some 3.5kilometres of the A2 to dual carriageway standard, between Jordanstown Road and Seapark.

Improvements will also include building four new roundabouts at Shore Avenue, Shorelands, Station Road, Greenisland and Seapark junction.

Mr Kennedy said: "Progress to date on this scheme has been very impressive. Up to the end of July approximately 65,000 man hours have been worked on the scheme, which equates to 36 man years.

"The site has been cleared, excavation of earthworks carried out and construction of accommodation works is ongoing at many adjacent properties.

"An extensive programme of works within the University of Ulster and Belfast High School grounds have been completed within their summer holiday periods.

"I would like to thank property owners and the travelling public for their patience while these works are constructed within very tight and difficult constraints. Once completed, this scheme will significantly ease the long-standing traffic congestion on this busy route which carries around 35,000 vehicles each day."

The Minister added his praise for construction contractors Graham Construction: "I am very pleased to see that the contractors, are providing employment opportunities for the unemployed and students as well as for apprentices.

"There is a firm commitment that one in 20 of Graham's staff are apprentices. The contract provides the equivalent of nine years of work experience and includes two placements for engineering students.

"The construction industry is vital to the local economy and we must continue to ensure that local firms and local people are given every opportunity to gain experience and employment through schemes such as this."

The works are expected to be completed by summer 2015
 

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EasyJet launches new Belfast flights to Jersey and Bordeaux

EasyJet has unveiled two new routes from Belfast to the Channel Islands and to France.

The low-cost carrier made the announcement to help mark its 15th anniversary at Belfast International Airport (BIA).

From summer 2014 easyJet will introduce new flights to Jersey in the Channel Islands and Bordeaux in south west France. Seats for both routes go on sale next month.

EasyJet has flown more than 32 million passengers to and from BIA since it introduced its first flight to Luton 15 years ago.

There is currently no direct flight from Northern Ireland to the Channel Islands. Ali Gayward, the airline's head in Northern Ireland, said the new routes offer a range of new holiday and business connections. "Since we launched our first flight to Belfast in 1998 over 32 million people have chosen to fly with us," she said.

"Today we're saying thank you to all those passengers who have helped make easyJet Northern Ireland's largest airline. "Belfast was one of our first bases outside Luton and we look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries here."

EasyJet has six aircraft based permanently at BIA and employs over 200 crew and pilots there. More than three million people fly to and from the Belfast hub with easyJet annually.

John Doran, BIA managing director, said the airline carries more passengers into and out of Northern Ireland than any other. "One of the main reasons for their success is that easyJet provides low fares to the destinations to which both business and leisure passengers want to travel," he said. "It was not uncommon in the mid-90s to be charged fares of over £300 to travel between Northern Ireland and significant UK cities such as Edinburgh, Liverpool and Bristol.

"EasyJet singularly changed all of that, as well as adding direct access to European cities from Belfast, and for that alone the Northern Ireland public owe them a huge debt of gratitude."
 

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Lagan bridge plan could be boost for biking commuters

Plans to build a new walking and cycling bridge across the River Lagan have taken a step forward after £50,000 was set aside for a study into the possibility.

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has announced the cash has been set aside to see if it would be feasible to build a new Gasworks Bridge connecting the Gasworks on Ormeau Road to Ormeau Park on the opposite side of the river.

The plan, highlighted by the Belfast Telegraph earlier this summer, would mean that cyclists commuting into the city centre from east Belfast would no longer have to contend with horrendous traffic on the Ormeau and Albert bridges, while Ormeau Park would effectively become a city centre park where workers could spend a pleasant hour over lunchtime before heading back to the grind.

The idea of a Gasworks Bridge was proposed years ago by Laganside Corporation, included in the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan and was suggested as part of the National Stadium proposal for Ormeau Park, but some-how never happened.

The project has been estimated to cost in the region of £4-8 million, with the bridge spanning 140m between the Lagan entrance to the Gasworks sites and the Ravenhill Reach car park beside Ormeau Park.

The minister announced the scheme in the Assembly yesterday, saying he wanted to see a cycling revolution in Northern Ireland.

Mr Kennedy said: "I feel more needs to be done for Northern Ireland to close the gap on other European cities in promoting cycling.

"This new unit will work closely with other government departments and key stakeholders to make sure cycling promotion is effective and co-ordinated. Safety is a major issue for cyclists and ensuring they can travel safely, especially around the city centre and on busy roads will be one of the main areas of focus.

"I previously announced a £50,000 feasibility study for a Lagan Cycle Bridge and the new unit will be tasked with developing similar proposals and working with the All party group on cycling to develop a strategy.

"In addition, my department also has plans to introduce around 4.5km of new cycle lanes."
 

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Sounds good; it would connect Ormeau park the Gasworks more with the city. The former is a fantastic space that is currently very underused by the wider city, the latter is disconnected from the city.

A few things jump out though: "In addition, my department also has plans to introduce around 4.5km of new cycle lanes."

Reeeeally? A whole 4.5km? Wowzers, that'll be a game changer... *be sure to switch on sarcasm detector immediately after reading*

"£50,000 feasibility study for a Lagan Cycle Bridge and the new unit will be tasked with developing similar proposals and working with the All party group on cycling to develop a strategy"

Ah come one. £50k? I've co-authored advisory/feasibility studies and we only billed for about £7k. I reckon a competent NGO could do that for £20k or less. Obviously a hot-shot consultant has been in the DRD office shaking hands and kissing ass.
 
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