One of the successes of public transport in recent years has been the high numbers of people using trains, and the popularity of ‘park and ride’.
There are park and ride bus services to the centre of Belfast from a number of locations on the outskirts of the city, including Dundonald, Templepatrick and Sprucefield.
There are also popular express train services from Bangor and Lisburn, and on the latter route there are fast connections from there to Lurgan and Portadown.
This means that the heart of Northern Ireland’s capital city is highly accessible by good, swift public transport from a range of commuter locations.
A new hub at Great Victoria Street will further enhance the appeal of travel into Belfast by both bus and train.
One problem for the Lisburn to Belfast to Bangor railway line, the which was built between 1839 and 1865, is that some of the areas around the main stations are too crowded with buildings to leave much room for large-scale parking.
Bangor West and Holywood have fast services to Belfast but it would be hard to build major parking beside either station for that reason – the former is surrounded by housing and the latter is in a tight site, which is hard to access from the busy main road nearby.
Lisburn has one of the best services to Belfast of all, with express trains that cover the journey in little more than 10 minutes, but it also has cramped and limited parking.
The good news is that there is a plan for a Lisburn West station with parking for 400 cars. Translink is also investigating increasing the number of spaces that the existing station, which is almost 170 year old.
It will be a welcome, further improvement to public transport in greater Belfast if one or both of these projects comes to fruition.