Northern Ireland news

Questions over progress and north and south Glider routes

GLIDER: A Glider makes its way through Belfast City Centre
John Breslin

COUNCILLORS in Belfast are questioning whether there is a delay in the progress on the development of north and south city Glider routes.

The Department for Infrastructure said work on the public consultation report is now at final draft stage while the business case is “well advanced”.

This public position by the department is the same as three months ago, except previously it said work on the consultation report was “advancing towards final draft stage”.

While there is little argument over the route through the south of the city, up the Ormeau and Saintfield roads, there is likely to be controversy around the northern line.

An extension of the current G2 is also on the table, up Dublin Road and University Road, returning via the Lisburn Road, This would link the Glider to Queen’s University and Belfast City Hospital.

Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd will also have to make the decision whether to run the north route via the Antrim Road or on either one of two routes via the Shore Road. Any decision on this route is likely to be politically contentious.

“Residents across the proposed preferred route options are keen to see work progress on this project,” said Séamas de Faoite, an SDLP councillor in south Belfast.

“Any unnecessary delay only serves to frustrate the change in our neighbourhoods that we wish to see.

“I do not see how the current political impasse could prevent you from at least publishing the consultation responses and the assessment of them by your department’s project team.”

The DfI said work on the public consultation report for Belfast Rapid Transit Phase 2 is now at final draft stage.

“Further development of the outline business case, which will help inform selection of the preferred route, is also well advanced.

“At this stage it remains too early to provide a time line for the preferred route announcement.”

Translink is closely watching developments, with the company stating it is waiting for the announcement on the preferred options.

A Translink spokesperson said: “We look forward to working with the DfI to deliver the new service on whichever preferred route is selected.

“This is an exciting scheme for the city which will further transform public transport, allowing us to build on the success of the current Glider system.

“We are committed to inspiring more people to choose public transport as their first choice for travel for a better-connected cleaner, and healthier city.”

Public consultation on route options was launched in late July 2021, closing for responses in October last year. There is a planned completion date of September 2027 at the earliest.

Mr de Faoite has written to Mr O’Dowd asking if the details of the public consultation have been reported to him and when he intends to make them public.

“The scheme will further encourage modal shift away from private motorcars and towards public transit and active travel,” the councillor said.

“This is desperately needed on the Ormeau Road which is used by 40,000 - 60,000 private vehicles every day.”

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