Trains to and from Belfast Airport (BFS)
Belfast International Airport is a very important transport hub for Northern Ireland, and currently handles around four million passengers every year. It is known by the IATA code of BFS, and many refer to the airport by its former name of the Aldergrove Airport, due to the Aldergrove Village that is positioned to the west. Belfast International Airport is a hub for Aer Lingus, and is served by many other airline companies. Although there is no Belfast International Airport train station, passengers can easily reach all the rail services of Ireland by the airport buses. There are several important train stations in the vicinity of the airport, and most are accessible by one from of transport or another.
The nearest railway station to Belfast International Airport is the Antrim Train Station, which is about 10km, or 6.2 miles from the airport. It is found in Antrim, a town directly north of the airport. Passengers who would like to reach this station should take the Translink bus 109A, which is also sometimes referred to as the Antrim Airlink (109A), or as the Ulsterbus 109A. It takes passengers to the Antrim Buscentre, which is right next to the Antrim Train Station. The buses are available from the airport, Monday to Saturday, between the hours of 06:00 and 18:00.
The train station of Antrim came into existence in 1848, and is today currently open only for passengers on the Belfast to Derry line, as it was closed for goods traffic in January 1965. Currently, there is a two hourly service running towards Londonderry Waterside or the Belfast Great Victoria Street Station, and other services are available to Ballymena. In the future, there is the possibility of re-establishing the Lisburn-Antrim line, which passes quite close by to the Belfast International Airport terminal. It will be a circular route, and is set out in the airport master plan.
A more popular route for passengers at Belfast International Airport is perhaps the Airport Express 300 bus which travels to Belfast city centre. The bus stops at Templepatrick and Royal Avenue, before ending its route at the Belfast Europa Buscentre. The Europa Buscentre happens to be adjacent to the Great Victoria Street Train Station in Belfast city. This is one of the main train stations in Northern Ireland, and from where many railway connections are available. The Airport Express 300 bus leaves Belfast International approximately every fifteen minutes, and operates twenty-four hours a day, however, its frequency could be less at later hours in the evening and over weekends. It’s times may also vary according to the flight schedules of the airport’s airline carriers. Bus tickets can be purchased from the bus driver, the airport’s tourism information desk or on board Easyjet flights. A return ticket is 10.00 Pound and a single ticket is 7.00 Pound. The journey from the airport to the train station is around thirty to forty minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
The Great Victoria Street Train Station is the most central of the two major stations of Belfast, even though the other is named as the Belfast Central Station. It is nearby Great Victoria Street, which is a premier commercial area, Sandy Row, the Europa Hotel and the Grand Opera House. The station consists of two island platforms, creating a total of four platforms. The platforms two and three open in into the station’s main concourse, while platforms one and four are shorter, and are reached by walking down the other platforms. This railway station, operated by NI (Northern Ireland) Railways, Translink and NI railway stations, is considered as a hub for Northern Ireland’s suburban rail services, and is the terminus for the Bangor line, Derry line, Larne line and the Newry line. Services from the Great Victoria Street Train Station include a half-hourly service towards Portadown or Newry, and to Bangor in the other direction. There could be additional services during busy times, and at night the services are only once an hour. Passengers can reach Larne-Harbour a few times a day, or travel to Derry every two hours. There are generally more trains during the week, and fewer services over the weekend.
In the future, Great Victoria Street Station may be considerably improved, due to the new traincare facility which is to be established next to the Adelaide Station for the new Class 4000 diesel multiple units. The infrastructure improvements may include re-aligning the track to reduce curves and the addition of a fifth platform. Buffer stops and the route from the platforms to the concourse may also be moved to the other side of Durham Street. Should the plans be integrated, the Enterprise train services that run between Belfast and Dublin will be transferred from the Belfast Central Station to the Great Victoria Street Station.
Belfast Central Train Station is located at East Bridge Street, and is the northern terminus of the popular cross-border Enterprise service to Dublin. The trains to Dublin run approximately every two hours. Other train services by the Northern Ireland Railways take passengers to Derry, Bangor, Portadown and Larne. Although the station is quite far from the city centre, despite it’s name, passengers in possession of a rail ticket can travel for free between East Bridge Street and Belfast city centre on a variety of Metro services. The Belfast Central Train Station was recently upgraded, and its passengers will therefore find its facilities to be comfortable and modern.
Further details regarding ticket purchases and pricing, as well as the train routes available, can be found at http://www.irishrail.ie. Although there is currently no Belfast International Airport train station, perhaps the new rail route past the airport will be in use in the near future, and in the meantime, passengers will find the buses to the various train stations in the area to be an adequate form of transport.