Estimated cost of Belfast’s Grand Central Station rises to £340m

An artist impression of the completed station

The estimated cost of a major new transport hub in Belfast has risen to £340 million, it has emerged.

Grand Central Station in Belfast is set to become the largest integrated transport hub in Ireland and will replace the current bus and rail facilities at Europa Bus Centre and Great Victoria Street train station.

It will also house the Enterprise train service to Dublin.

Stormont Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd told MLAs the project is “progressing well” with the first phase due to be operational by autumn, and the full station and associated public realm works due to be completed by the end of 2025.

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley asked the minister about the latest cost of the project during Assembly questions for his department on Tuesday.

The estimated cost has risen to £340m

Grand Central Station had previously been described as a £200 million project.

Mr O’Dowd said the total cost had been projected to be £295 million when the full business case was approved in November 2020.

“The latest cost estimate is £340 million which is £45 million higher than the estimated cost,” he said.

“The vast majority of this cost increase is due to extraordinary inflation that has impacted on all major capital projects.

“The project is due to be completed by quarter four 2025 which is in line with the date indicated in the approved full business case.”

The full site will include 1.3 million square feet of office, residential, student housing, retail and leisure space, as well as Saltwater Square, a new public realm space for outdoor performances and community events.

Earlier this month, Belfast city councillors voted for dual Irish and English language signage to be installed at the land it has responsibility for around the new station and surrounding Weaver’s Cross area.

Mr O’Dowd was asked by People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll if he could commit to issuing a directive to Translink to implement dual language signage at all transport centres including Grand Central.

The minister said his understanding is that he does not have the authority to issue such a directive.

“But I have, and my officials have been engaging with Translink in relation to this matter,” he said.

“I think there is an opportunity here for this state of the art station to have all of the languages which represent the communities which it serves, and I have encouraged Translink to do that,” he said.

“But it is a decision for Translink.

“I am reviewing my own department’s Irish language policy and ensuring that it is line with the European Charter for Minority Languages and the upcoming languages and culture Act to ensure that we’re leading the way on that.”

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