The official opening of Antrim Bus & Rail Centre took place this week following the successful completion of a £2.9 million construction project on time and on schedule.
The cutting-edge passenger facility is Northern Ireland’s first sustainable low carbon station.
It is being showcased as an example of sustainable station development ‘best practice’ attracting visits from transport experts across Europe including Germany, Netherlands, France and the UK.
The project was funded by the Department for Regional Development and the European Union INTERREG IVB Programme through the Sustainable Stations Project.
Translink Chairman John Trethowan said: “This new facility will act as an important gateway into Antrim welcoming local people and visitors, enhancing the town’s appeal as a visitor destination and contributing to economic, social and environmental development in the area.
“It is a very effective mix of old and new; we have restored the original station’s Grade 2 B architecture and façade, incorporating it with environmentally sound technologies and major eco-refurbishments.
“Around half a million people now use our facilities in Antrim annually and we believe this integrated bus and rail centre, along with recent investment in our rail services and Goldline coach services, will further boost local passenger numbers.
“We would like to thank the Minister for Regional Development, his Department and the European Union INTERREG IVB Programme through the Sustainable Stations Project for the essential funding to complete this major construction project.”
Translink Group Chief Executive Catherine Mason said: “Antrim Bus & Rail Centre leads the way in sustainable station development in Europe and reflects our company-wide focus on managing and minimising our environmental impact. Innovative eco-technology and biodiversity initiatives have been combined with excellent passenger comfort and accessibility features to create a first class passenger facility.
“Investment in passenger transport and encouraging more people to use the bus and train through attractive ticketing and accessible passenger information remain essential for continued growth in passenger numbers, building a more sustainable and vibrant Northern Ireland.
“We would like to thank local customers and residents for their co-operation and patience throughout this project and hope they enjoy using their new bus and rail centre.”
Shaun Henry, Director of Managing Authority, with the Special EU Programmes Body, said: “This project created strong working relationships with European partners based in France, the Netherlands and Germany. It highlights how, by working together, partners across Europe can create, develop and implement innovative solutions to common problems which affect them all. In creating the region’s first ever low carbon station, with support from the European Union, Translink has been able to usher in a step-change in the delivery of environmentally friendly and accessible public transport.”
During the official opening ceremony, a special Time Capsule was installed in the building including submissions reflecting community life in Antrim. 111 items were provided by local people to represent the number of years since the station first opened in 1902. It is marked for re-opening in 2063.