Translink (Northern Ireland)
Translink is the brand name of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHCo), a public corporation in Northern Ireland which provides the public transport in the region. NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metro are all part of Translink. It is led by CEO Chris Conway.
Translink provides services all over Northern Ireland and also to Dublin, in a partnership deal with its counterpart in the Republic of Ireland. It also provides local bus services in many towns and cities all over Northern Ireland including Bangor, Derry, Ballymena, Omagh, Craigavon, Ballywaticock and Antrim. The Metro service operates throughout Belfast, right out to the suburbs.
NITHCo was established in 1967 to take over the railway and bus services of the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA), namely Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) and Ulsterbus. In 1996 the Translink organization was created to integrate the services of the Ulster Transport Authority as well as Citybus Limited (Belfast only – successor to the Belfast Corporation Transport Department). Citybus is now known as Metro.
In February 2020 a senior civil servant issued a stark warning on the future of Northern Ireland's public transport network.
Northern Ireland Railways
Northern Ireland Railways (NIR), formerly and briefly called Ulster Transport Railways (UTR), is responsible for running the railway network in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland railway network is currently 330.58 km (205.41 mi).
The main passenger line operates from Portadown to Bangor. In addition to this, Translink also provides rail services between Belfast and Derry to the north and Newry to the south, continuing across the border, which is part of the fast Enterprise service between Belfast and Dublin. Also operated are services to Larne and Portrush, which is a branch off the Belfast-Derry railway line, at Coleraine.
In 2014, Translink announced that they were looking at proposals for a service operating from Belfast International Airport to Belfast city centre. These included proposals to reopen the Lisburn-Antrim railway line, which was closed to passenger trains in June 2003 in favour of the Bleach Green line which provides a direct line between Belfast and Derry. The Lisburn-Antrim line passes Belfast International Airport and could be used to provide services to it. However, despite general political support from the Northern Ireland Assembly, there has been no movement on these proposals to date.
Ulsterbus is responsible for most of the bus services in Northern Ireland. They operate around 20 bus stations which include: Armagh, Antrim, Lisburn, Bangor, Newtownards, Downpatrick, Newry, Craigavon, Dungannon, Omagh, Enniskillen, Derry, Coleraine, Ballymena, Magherafelt, Larne and Newcastle and others within Belfast and 1,100 Buses. Ulsterbus is charged with transporting over 65,000 children per day to school.
Goldline is the name given to the key Inter-urban bus services operated by Ulsterbus linking major cities in the Northern Ireland and cross-border services into the Republic of Ireland. Amongst these are the flagship Service 212/X212 'Maiden City Flyer' from Belfast to Derry & the X1 from Belfast to Dublin/Dublin Airport.
Translink also provide a number of hire services to the public.
The Translink Metro service (previously Citybus) operates bus services within the Greater Belfast Area. Metro operates 12 bus corridors (QBCs) in Belfast, plus a number of additional routes.
The service began as the Belfast Corporation Transport Department. In 1973, these services were transferred to the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company as Citybus Limited, becoming part of the "Translink" integrated network in 1995. In 2004, Translink/NITHC announced that Citybus would be completely rebranded & reorganised into 12 QBCs and integrated with Ulsterbus services in the Greater Belfast area. Citybus was re-branded as Metro on 7 February 2005.
Metro currently have a wide fleet mainly of double deckers that consists of:
- 5 – Volvo B7TL/Transbus 'ALX400' (New in 2003)
- 54 – Volvo B9TL/Wrightbus Gemini (New in 2008)
- 28 – Volvo B9TL/Wrightbus Gemini Mk.2 (New in 2012/2013).
- 39 – Volvo B5TL/Wrightbus Gemini Mk.3 (New in 2014)
- 23 – Volvo B5TL/Wrightbus Gemini Mk.3 Facelift (New in 2014/2017)
- 1 – Wrightbus Streetdeck HEV (New in 2019)
They also operate single deckers in the fleet:
- 30 – Volvo B7RLE/Wrightbus Eclipse Mk.2 (New in 2012/2013)
- 9 – Scania L94UB/Wrightbus Solar (New in 2003 & 2004). [Approx. as moves between Metro & Ulsterbus of these are often].
- 8 – Optare Solo Midibuses (New in 2005).
- 13 – Optare Solo SR Midibuses (New in 2014/2018).
- 1 – Plaxton Primo Midibus (New in 2007). [Transferred from Ulsterbus, Coleraine in 2018 for Easibus services].
- 10 – Optare Versa (New in 2014). [3 of fleet used on Airport 600 service].
Metro also have a group of seven ex-Ulsterbus Goldliner and Express coaches for use on private hire. These are Scania K9I4B/Irizar Intercentury, new in 2003/2005 and Scania K360EB/Irizar Century painted in Metro Private Hire livery.
Total – 281
Foyle Metro is a division of Translink that operates bus services in Derry. The new service was opened in August 2017 following an update of the city's bus routes and replacing some of the older buses. Foyle Metro is similar to Metro that operates buses in Belfast.
Foyle Metro operates across 13 key corridors from the City Centre, with an additional route 14A/B/C orbiting the City's North Side from Ballymagroarty to Currynierin via Altnagelvin Hospital.
The Belfast Rapid Transit System, which became operational on 3 September 2018, is a bus service run by Translink. The routes are served by 30 18-metre bendy buses, branded as Glider, built by Van Hool and specifically designed for Belfast.
They feature real time passenger information, destination announcements, CCTV, free Wi-Fi, USB charging facilities, air conditioning, and operate every 7–8 minutes throughout the working day. Route G1 links the Park and ride facility at Dundonald in East Belfast with the McKinstry Road roundabout in West Belfast whereas Route G2 connects the Titanic Quarter with the city centre.
Translink received criticism in 2008 from Consumer Council Chief Executive, Eleanor Gill for providing inadequate service despite raising fares at a greater rate than inflation. She told BBC News that "passengers will rightly ask why average fare increases on Ulsterbus and Metro are above inflation while punctuality and reliability are below their target."
- Enterprise Train; Cross-border Irish rail service.
- Ulster Transport Authority; Which ran rail and bus transport in Northern Ireland from 1948 until 1966.
- Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company; Government-owned body which was set up to take over the railway and bus services of the UTA.
- McCormack, Jayne (19 February 2020). "Translink: Future of transport company 'in jeopardy' over funding". BBC News. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
- Plans for rail link to Belfast International Airport unveiled, Belfast Telegraph, May 19, 2014
- Rail Services between Belfast City Centre and Belfast International Airport, Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:30 am on 13th September 2016
- http://www.translink.co.uk/also-on-our-site/Glider/[bare URL]
- https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/translink-release-new-metro-service-15008500[bare URL]
- "Bus and train fares set to rise". BBC. 12 March 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2009.