The hub aims to enhance local and international connectivity with bus, coach and rail links across Northern Ireland and beyond.
The facility will also include cycle and taxi provision, delivering enhanced connectivity and comfort encouraging sustainable active travel for a healthier city.
There had been some objection to the plan which will see the removal of the historic Boyne Bridge at Sandy Row, but ultimately the green light was given to build the new hub, which will facilitate greater capacity with an increase to 26 bus stands and eight railway platforms and more than 300 cycle parking spaces.
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Marking the start of the main works on site, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “The construction of the Belfast Transport Hub, a key NI Executive flagship project, will significantly enhance the provision of public transport and active travel, drive economic development and play a major part in tacking the climate emergency.
“When completed in 2025 it will be the largest integrated transport facility on the island of Ireland and will help Belfast and Northern Ireland to grow as a modern, competitive, and confident region.
“I welcome the many, social, environmental and economic benefits this project, alongside the wider Weavers Cross regeneration project, will bring.
“As a major boost to the construction and engineering sectors, with the generation of over 500 jobs and around £2.5million for social value through community partnerships, it will deliver immediate and long-term benefits for the entire region.”
The project will be phased so that there will be no time when Belfast city centre is without a bus or train station.
When complete Great Victoria Street train station and Europa bus centre will be redeveloped as part of the Weavers Cross project.
Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said: “This exciting new fully integrated transport hub will represent a step change for public transport. As a fully multi-modal transport facility it will improve connectivity for everyone in Northern Ireland and beyond and act as a highly impressive gateway.
“It will deliver a high-class customer experience including retail options and enhanced cross border connectivity for up to 20million passenger journeys annually.
“With the added benefits of active travel options, it will also play a major part in tacking the climate emergency, reduce congestion for better air quality, leading to a healthier, smarter and more sustainable city for everyone.”
Darrell McGuckian, operations director for Farrans Sacyr JV, said: “The sod cutting marks an important construction milestone on this significant project.
“We are pleased to meet with Minister Mallon today and provide her with a tour of the Belfast Transport Hub site, as well as an update on our progress to date.
“Since the contract award, our team has been collaborating closely with Translink and utilising our joint office space to truly come together as one team.
“We have started engaging with local community groups, charities, businesses and schools to keep all stakeholders informed along the project journey and maximise the positive lasting legacy that comes with the development of the Transport Hub.”
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