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Translink is the brand name of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHCo), a public corporation in Northern Ireland which provides the public transport in the region. NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metro are all part of Translink. It is led by CEO Chris Conway.

Translink provides services all over Northern Ireland and also to Dublin, in a partnership deal with its counterpart in the Republic of Ireland. It also provides local bus services in many towns and cities all over Northern Ireland including Bangor, Derry, Ballymena, Omagh, Craigavon and Antrim. The Metro service operates throughout Belfast, right out to the suburbs.

NITHCo was established in 1967 to take over the railway and bus services of the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA), namely Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) and Ulsterbus. In 1996 the Translink organization was created to integrate the services of the Ulster Transport Authority as well as Citybus Limited (Belfast only - successor to the Belfast Corporation Transport Department). Citybus is now known as Metro.

Northern Ireland RailwaysEdit

NIR, Helen's Bay Station, September 2009

Northern Ireland Railways (NIR), formerly and briefly called Ulster Transport Railways (UTR), is responsible for running the railway network in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland railway network is currently 330.58 km (205.41 mi).

The main passenger line operates from Portadown to Bangor. In addition to this, Translink also provides rail services between Belfast and Derry to the north and Newry to the south, continuing across the border, which is part of the fast Enterprise service between Belfast and Dublin. Also operated are services to Larne and Portrush, which is a branch off the Belfast-Derry railway line, at Coleraine.

By 2015 Translink hope to have a service operating from Belfast International Airport to Belfast city centre. Translink are in talks with the airport about reopening the Lisburn-Antrim railway line, which was closed in June 2003 in favour of the quicker Bleach-Green line. The Lisburn-Antrim passes Belfast International Airport and could be used to provide services to it.


Ulsterbus Goldliner, Newry, March 2010

Ulsterbus is responsible for most of the bus services in Northern Ireland. They operate around 20 bus stations which include: Armagh, Antrim, Lisburn, Bangor, Newtownards, Downpatrick, Newry, Craigavon, Dungannon, Omagh, Enniskillen, Derry, Coleraine, Ballymena, Magherafelt, Larne and Newcastle and others within Belfast and 1,100 Buses. Ulsterbus is charged with transporting over 65,000 children per day to school.


Goldline is the name given to the key Inter-urban bus services operated by Ulsterbus linking major cities in the Northern Ireland and cross-border services into the Republic of Ireland Amongst these are the flagship Service 212/X212 'Maiden City Flyer' from Belfast to Derry & the X1 from Belfast to Dublin/Dublin Airport. There are also a number of cross channel (North Channel) services to Great Britain, including the 921 Belfast - Birmingham & the 923 Belfast - Edinburgh.

Private/Contract HireEdit

Translink also provide a number of hire services to the public.

Day ToursEdit

Ulsterbus operate "Day Tours" to other parts of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland mainly shopping and to some tourist attractions.


Metro bus, Belfast, October 2009

The Translink Metro service (previously Citybus) operates bus services within the Greater Belfast Area. Metro operates 12 bus corridors (QBCs) in Belfast, plus a number of additional routes.

The service began as the Belfast Corporation Transport Department. In 1973, these services were transferred to the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company as Citybus Limited, becoming part of the "Translink" integrated network in 1995. In 2004, Translink/NITHC announced that Citybus would be completely rebranded & reorganised into 12 QBCs and integrated with Ulsterbus services in the Greater Belfast area. Citybus was re-branded as Metro on 7 February 2005.

Metro currently have a wide fleet mainly of double deckers that consists of:

  • 60 - Volvo B7TL/Alexander 'ALX400' (New in 2001 & 2005)
  • 24 - Volvo B7TL/Transbus 'ALX400' (New in 2003)
  • 54 - Volvo B9TL/Wrightbus Gemini (New in 2008)
  • 28 - Volvo B9TL/Wrightbus Gemini Mk.2 (New in 2012/2013).
  •  ?? - Volvo B5TL/Wrightbus Gemini Mk.3 (New in 2016/2017)

They also operate 100 single deckers in the fleet:

  • 30 - Volvo B7RLE/Wrightbus Eclipse Mk.2 (New in 2012/2013)
  • 33 - Scania L94UB/Wrightbus Solar (New in 2001 & 2003). [Approx. as moves between Metro & Ulsterbus of these are often].
  • 37 - Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renown (New in 1999/2000). [Of 09/13, although withdrawal of these has begun.]

Metro also have a group of ten ex-Ulsterbus Goldliner coaches for use on private hire. These are Volvo B10M/Plaxton Excaliburs, new in 1999 & painted in a startling pink livery.

Total - 275

Foyle MetroEdit

Foyle Metro is a division of Translink that operates bus services in Derry. The new service was opened in August 2017 following an update of the city's bus routes and replacing some of the older buses. Foyle Metro is similar to Metro that operates buses in Belfast.

Foyle Metro operates across 13 key corridors from the City Centre, with an additional route 14A/B/C orbiting the City's North Side from Ballymagroarty to Currynierin via Altnagelvin Hospital.

Belfast Rapid Transit SystemEdit

The Belfast Rapid Transit System, which became operational on 3 September 2018, is a bus service run by Translink. The routes are served by 30 18-metre bendy buses, branded as Glider, built by Van Hool and specifically designed for Belfast. They feature real time passenger information, destination announcements, CCTV, free Wi-Fi, USB charging facilities, air conditioning, and operate every 7-8 minutes throughout the working day. Route G1 links the Park and ride facility at Dundonald in East Belfast with the McKinstry Road roundabout in West Belfast whereas Route G2 connects the Titanic Quarter with the city centre. The service is expected to help meet the future transport needs of Belfast. [1][2]


Translink received criticism in 2008 from Consumer Council Chief Executive, Eleanor Gill for providing inadequate service despite raising fares at a greater rate than inflation. She told BBC News that "passengers will rightly ask why average fare increases on Ulsterbus and Metro are above inflation while punctuality and reliability are below their target."[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Bus and train fares set to rise". BBC. 12 March 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2009.

External linksEdit