Belfast Great Victoria Street railway station

Great Victoria Street
NI Railways
Location Belfast
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Coordinates 54°35′39″N 5°56′10″W / 54.5942°N 5.9362°W / 54.5942; -5.9362Coordinates: 54°35′39″N 5°56′10″W / 54.5942°N 5.9362°W / 54.5942; -5.9362
Owned by NI Railways
Operated by NI Railways
Platforms 4
Structure type At-grade
Original company Ulster Railway
Post-grouping Great Northern Railway (Ireland)
Key dates
1839 (1839) First station opened
1848 First terminus completed
1968 Terminus largely demolished
1976 First station closed
1995 Second station opened
UK Railways portal

Belfast Great Victoria Street is a major railway station serving the city centre of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is one of two major stations in the city, along with Belfast Central, and is one of the four stations located in the city centre, the others being Belfast Central, Botanic and City Hospital. It is near Great Victoria Street, one of Belfast's premier commercial zones, and Sandy Row. It is in a more central position than Belfast Central, with the Europa Hotel, Grand Opera House and The Crown Liquor Saloon all nearby.


Drawing of a grand Victorian stone building, with its central entrance lined with columns.
The 1848 Godwin-designed terminus building, as drawn in 1854.
One small wing of the previously-illustrated building, with temporary huts in the place of the rest of the structure.
Remains of the station building in 1976, before final demolition

The station is on the site of a former linen mill, beside where Durham Street crossed the Blackstaff River at the Saltwater (now Boyne) Bridge.

The Ulster Railway opened the first station on 12 August 1839. A new terminal building, probably designed by Ulster Railway engineer John Godwin, was completed in 1848.[1] Godwin later founded the School of Civil Engineering at Queen's College.[1]

The station was Belfast's first railway terminus, and as such was called just "Belfast" until 1852. By then two other railway companies had opened termini in Belfast, so the Ulster Railway renamed its terminus "Belfast Victoria Street" for clarity. In 1855 the Dublin and Belfast Junction Railway was completed,[2] making Victoria Street the terminus for one of the most important main lines in Ireland. The Ulster Railway changed the station name again to "Great Victoria Street" in 1856.

In 1876 the Ulster Railway became part of the Great Northern Railway (GNR),[2] making Great Victoria Street the terminus for a network that extended south to Dublin and west to Derry and Bundoran.

Express passenger traffic to and from Dublin Connolly station was always Great Victoria Street's most prestigious traffic. The GNR upgraded its expresses over the decades and in 1947 introduced the Enterprise non-stop service between the two capitals.[3] As Belfast suburbs grew, commuter traffic also grew in volume.

The view inside the vaulted ceiling of a metal shed-like structure, bustling with people
Interior of the station in 1976.

In 1958, the Ulster Transport Authority took over Northern Ireland's bus and rail services. Three years later Great Victoria Street station was modernised, and a bus centre incorporated into the facility.[3] Then in 1968, a large section of the 1848 terminal building was demolished to make way for the development of the Europa Hotel, which opened in 1971.[3] In April 1976 Northern Ireland Railways closed both Great Victoria Street[3] and the Belfast Queen's Quay terminus of the Bangor line and replaced them both with a new Belfast Central station. The remainder of Great Victoria Street station was demolished.

After a feasibility study was commissioned in 1986 it was agreed that a new development on the site, incorporating the reintroduction of the Great Northern Railway, was viable. The Great Northern Tower was built on the site of the old station terminus in 1992,[4] and the second Great Victoria Street Station was opened on 30 September 1995.[5] It is only yards from the site of its predecessor.

Railway station

Great Victoria Street platforms in 2011.

The current station has two island platforms providing a total of four platform faces. Platforms 2 and 3 run the full length of the site and open onto the station's main concourse. Platforms 1 and 4 are half the length and are accessible by walking down the other platforms.

Great Victoria Street is the hub of Northern Ireland's suburban rail services, with Bangor line, Derry~Londonderry line, Newry line and weekend Larne Line trains all terminating there.


On Mondays to Saturdays, there are half-hourly services to Bangor or Portadown on the Bangor and Portadown Lines, with some Portadown-bound trains continuing on to Newry.

There is also a half-hourly service on the Larne Line, with the terminus alternating between Whitehead and Larne Harbour every half an hour.

Derry~Londonderry Line trains operate hourly from Great Victoria Street, with the services alternating each hour between services to Londonderry Waterside, and services to Coleraine, most of which continue to Portrush via the Coleraine-Portrush railway line.

On Sundays, the Bangor, Larne, and Portadown Line services all reduce to hourly operation. Derry~Londonderry Line services reduce to two-hourly operation, with only seven trains running each way. All Derry~Londonderry Line trains operate to and from Londonderry Waterside on Sundays, except for the final train of the evening, which terminates at Coleraine.

Preceding station   Northern Ireland Railways   Following station
Terminus   Northern Ireland Railways
  City Hospital
  Northern Ireland Railways
  Northern Ireland Railways
City Hospital   Northern Ireland Railways
Terminus   Enterprise
Historical railways
Terminus   Great Northern Railway (Ireland)
Enterprise Express
  Amiens Street
Line and station open

Rail Air Link

Railway access from Great Victoria Street at Sydenham links into George Best Belfast City Airport on the line to Bangor.


NI Railways are to build a new traincare facility next to Adelaide station for its new Class 4000 diesel multiple units. The opportunity is being taken to improve the infrastructure at Great Victoria Street; the plan to begin with was to reduce the curves by realigning the track, and moving the buffer stops and the route from the platforms to the concourse to the other side of Durham Street. Additionally there were plans to add a fifth platform to the station, which would have culminated in Enterprise services transferring from Belfast Central to Great Victoria Street.[6] However, under Translink's subsequent plan to build a new integrated transport hub, the proposal has expanded to the potential construction of a brand new 6-8 platform station on the site of the old Grosvenor Road freight depot, close to the existing station, because the existing site is too constrained for any further expansion.[7]

Rail and Sea Connections

Port of Belfast

The Port of Belfast has a Stena Line ferry connecting to Cairnryan for the bus link[8] to Stranraer and onward trains along the Glasgow South Western Line to Glasgow Central.

Preceding station National Rail Following station
Historical railways
  Ferry Connections  
Stranraer Harbour
(via bus link from Cairnryan[8])
  Stena Line
  Port of Belfast
(from Yorkgate, Belfast Central
or Belfast Great Victoria Street)
Stranraer Harbour
(via bus link from Cairnryan[8])
  P&O Ferries
  Larne Harbour

Port of Larne

The Larne line connects with Larne Harbour with P&O Ferries sailing to Cairnryan for the bus link[8] to Stranraer and onward trains along the Glasgow South Western Line to Glasgow Central, as well as alternative sailings by P&O Ferries to Troon also on the Glasgow South Western Line to Glasgow Central.

Europa Buscentre

Great Victoria Street is part of a major public transport interchange, being adjacent to the Europa Buscentre. This was built in 1991 as the ground floor level of a multi-storey car park.[9] The Buscentre is the Belfast terminus for most Ulsterbus "Goldline" services in Northern Ireland. These serve various destinations that are not on the railway network, including Enniskillen, Banbridge, Omagh, Downpatrick, Cavan, Newcastle, Strabane and Armagh. Also, services from the Buscentre serve both Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport directly.[10] Ulsterbus runs joint services with Bus Éireann for its direct express service to Dublin and Dublin Airport, with National Express to Dumfries, Carlisle, Manchester, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and London, and with Citylink to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Preceding station   Ulsterbus   Following station
Newry Buscentre   Goldline
Belfast-Dublin (Route X1)
  Bus Éireann
Dublin-Belfast (Route X1)
Dublin Airport   Goldline
Belfast-Dublin (Route X2)
  Bus Éireann
Dublin-Belfast (Route X2)
Toomebridge By-Pass   Goldline
Belfast-Derry (Route 212)
Adelaide Street   Goldline
Belfast-Downpatrick (Route 215)
Belfast-Newcastle (Route 237)
Ballynahinch   Goldline
Belfast-Newcastle (Route 237A)
Belfast High Street   Goldline
Belfast-Ballymena-Coleraine (Route 218)
Belfast-Ballymena-Coleraine (Route 219)
Ballymena Railway Station   Goldline
Belfast-Giant's Causeway (Route 221)
Portadown Market Street   Goldline
Belfast-Armagh/Monaghan (Route 251)
Dungannon Bus Station   Goldline
Belfast-Enniskillen (Route 261)
Belfast-Derry via Omagh (Route 273)
Belfast International Airport   Goldline
Airport Express (Route 300)
Belfast City Airport   Goldline
Airport Express (Route 600)
Stranraer Ferry Terminal
via Stena Line



  1. 1 2 Pollock, Vivienne; Parkhill, Trevor (2001). A Century of Belfast. Swindon: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2897-2.
  2. 1 2 "The Belfast Hub: Making History" (PDF). Translink. p. 2. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "The Belfast Hub: Making History" (PDF). Translink. p. 3. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  4. "17 Great Victoria Street – Great Northern Tower". Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  5. "John Bennett's Railways Journeys – Part 6: An Enterprising Journey". BBC NI. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  6. Ferris, Cyril (2009). "Enterprise moving to Great Victoria Street?". Today's Railways (97): 37.
  7. Watson, W.; McFerran, A. (2015). "Proposal to close Great Victoria Street". Rail Express (228): 96.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Timetable: 350 Stranraer – Railway Station – Cairnryan Ferry Ports". Dumfries and Galloway Council. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  9. "Europa Bus Centre, Belfast". Robinson McIlwaine. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  10. Goldline Timetable

External links

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