BELFAST | Great Victoria Street station closes on 10 May 2024


The city of Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is served by 5 train stations on the NI Railways network. One of these is Great Victoria Street station, the network’s Belfast terminus located some 10 minutes away from the City Hall. The site has hosted a train station since 1839 with some interruptions, but that history is about to come to an end on Friday, 10 May 2024 when the station is due to close permanently to accommodate track works for the new Belfast Grand Central station.

Why is the station closing?

The short answer is that Belfast is getting a brand new central station in autumn of 2024: the imaginatively named “Belfast Grand Central Station“. The new station is located to the west of Great Victoria Street station on Durham Street and Grosvenor Road, and is slated to be the new terminus of all Translink rail and bus services. This will include the flagship Enterprise service to Dublin which presently serves Lanyon Place station to the east of the city centre.

In order to connect Grand Central to the railway network and to disconnect Great Victoria Street, the existing railway junction leading to both Great Victoria Street and Lanyon Place will need to be reconfigured. This requires Great Victoria Street station to be closed so the works can be done without interference from regular train traffic. As Grand Central will be taking over Great Victoria Street’s current role as the NI Railways terminus in Belfast, this naturally means Great Victoria Street station will eventually have to be closed anyway.

What about Europa Bus Centre?

The Europa Bus Centre will remain open until Grand Central opens, upon which Europa will close and all bus and coach services will serve Grand Central instead.

Track closures and substitution services

To facilitate the track works, Translink is planning to implement a series of line closures and service reconfigurations. Most notably, the railway line between Lanyon Place and Lisburn will close on 2 separate occassions – the morning of 11 May until 11am, and in the summer from July to August 2024. No trains will run between Lisburn and Lanyon Place during those periods until Grand Central opens or unless stated otherwise.

For more up to date information, visit Translink’s info page for Belfast Grand Central developments.

NI Railways substitution services

A few measures will be implemented by Translink to mitigate the impact of the closure on 11 May, largely involving bus substitution services:

  • Bus substitution services will run between Lanyon Place, Great Victoria Street, and Lisburn in the early mornings. These are a replacement for the morning trains that would otherwise be serving these stations.
  • Passengers from Botanic, City Hospital, and all other Lisburn Road halts will be directed onto existing Metro and Ulsterbus services. Valid train tickets will be accepted onboard.

Both City Hospital and Botanic stations will be in use between 11 May (after 11am) and July, and offer alternatives to Lanyon Place for South Belfast-based passengers prior to the summer closures in July.

Enterprise closures and bus substitution

The closure of the tracks between Lisburn and Lanyon Place on 11 May and in the summer will also affect the cross border Enterprise train service to Dublin – the Enterprise will temporarily run only between Portadown and Dublin Connolly.

For the 11 May morning closure, Enterprise passengers departing Belfast on the 6:50 am, 8:00 am, and 10:35 am departures to Dublin will be directed to dedicated substitute coaches running from Lanyon Place to Newry, where passengers will then board the Enterprise. Based off Translink’s announcements, a similar coach substitution will also be implemented during the summer closure.

Our thoughts

The closure of Great Victoria Street station will naturally be a short term inconvenience. Until Grand Central opens, railway access to Belfast city centre will be provided by Lanyon Place station which is itself a bit of a walk from the city centre proper.

On the flip side, Grand Central’s opening will probably be the biggest public transport development in Northern Ireland (and possibly the entire island) in decades. For the first time in a long while, Belfast will finally have a central bus & railway station worth of its status as a regional capital. Gone will be the narrow spaces of Great Victoria Street station and the Europa Bus Centre. Commuters will soon enjoy a spacious and modern transport hub. Passengers on the Enterprise from Dublin will also disembark into a bright and airy gateway to Belfast, a far cry from the current experience at Lanyon Place.

It also doesn’t hurt that Grand Central will feature 8 train platforms, which is a 50% increase from the current 4 platforms at Great Victoria Street and Lanyon Place. This means space for more NIR and Enterprise services to be run – not a bad thing!

Fun fact: Lanyon Place station was once named “Belfast Central” from its opening until year 2018, despite being nowhere near the city centre. The station will once again be the central station for Belfast for one last time from 10 May onwards until the new Grand Central station opens in autumn of 2024.

A brief history of Belfast’s Great Victoria Street station

The first station on the site was opened by the Ulster Railway on 12 August 1839 on what was then Victoria Street. This station building was then replaced in 1848 by a new building designed by engineer John Godwin.

Between 1839 and 1852, this station was Belfast’s first railway terminus and named just “Belfast”. New railway termini would be opened by other railway companies, prompting the Ulster Railway to rename “Belfast” to “Belfast Victoria Street”, and subsequently to “Great Victoria Street” in 1856 when the street name was changed.

The station’s prestige lay in the fact that it was the Belfast terminus of the Belfast – Dublin main line, one of the island’s most important main line. This saw Great Victoria Street constantly serving express passenger traffic to and from Dublin Connolly over the years, culminating in today’s Enterprise service. The station also began serving progressively larger volumes of commuter traffic alongside the growth of Belfast’s suburbs to the south of the city.

The 1848 station would eventually go through a number of developments that chipped away at its role as Belfast’s premier rail terminus, with the most notable being the 1976 construction of the Europa Hotel that resulted in the demolishing of a large section of the 1848 building. The impact of 30 years of armed conflict in Northern Ireland also took it’s toll on the railways, with the station being the site of a number of bomb attacks (notably one on 21 July that would later become known as “Bloody Friday“).

NI Railways closed the 1848 station in April 1976 and thereafter transferred all services to the then new Belfast Central Station, now renamed “Lanyon Place”. What remained of the 1848 station was demolished, but evidently there was still demand for railway services at the site. A feasibility study in 1986 confirmed that fact, and on 30 September 1995 a brand new (and much less glamorous) Great Victoria Street station was constructed just a few yards behind where the original once stood – the original site having been taken over by the new Great Northern Tower in 1992.

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