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First in Ireland Battery Electric Double Decker Bus for Public Transport Unveiled

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is joined by Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive. Also pictured are some of Translink’s Changemaker youth ambassadors (L-R) Darcie Baguley, Mealla Lavery, Peter Teague and Finlay Baird. Photo Credit: Aaron McCracken

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has unveiled the first of 80 battery electric double decker buses due to be in passenger service in spring 2022.

Part of her £74million investment for 100 zero emission buses, which also includes 20 Hydrogen fuelled buses and a programme of associated infrastructure works, this is the next key milestone in Minister Mallon’s commitment to climate action and decarbonising Northern Ireland’s public transport.

Minister Mallon said:  “The time for talking is over – it is now time for climate action. Cleaner, greener, sustainable transport is key to protecting our environment and fighting the climate crisis. I have been clear since coming to office that we must act now to deliver the change that our communities and our citizens deserve.

“That is why I provided £74million of investment in zero/low emission buses and I am delighted to see this investment now translate into delivery on the ground with the arrival of the first electric double decker buses for public transport on the island of Ireland today.  When all the buses arrive and are in service Translink will have the 4th largest fleet across these islands of zero emission buses – demonstrating my commitment to ensuring Northern Ireland is building a cleaner, greener society.

“Today’s announcement comes on the day the UN COP26 Climate Change Summit Presidency theme is putting a focus on Energy, where parties are focused on accelerating the global transition to clean energy. It is fantastic that the hard work here in Northern Ireland is paying off and we are transitioning our public transport system now and for the future.  I believe COP26 represents a critical time and opportunity for decision makers across the world.  This is the world’s best and last chance to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. I am hopeful, I am committed and I am determined to deliver the change our people, our place and our planet urgently requires.”

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is joined by Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, as she unveiled the first of 80 electric double decker buses due to be in passenger service in spring 2022. Part of her £74million investment for 100 zero emission buses, which also includes 20 Hydrogen fuelled buses and a programme of associated infrastructure works, this is the next key milestone in Minister Mallon’s commitment to climate action and decarbonising Northern Ireland’s public transport. Photo Credit: Aaron McCracken

Chris Conway, Group Chief Executive, Translink said, “This is another significant milestone in our journey to reduce our carbon emissions and attract more people to cleaner public transport choices for the benefit of everyone.  These new zero emission buses will make up around one third of the Translink Metro fleet helping improve air quality in Belfast.  They will also offer the latest standards in comfort, quality and accessibility with in-seat USB chargers, WiFi and new accessibility features.

“For first time in over 3 decades, city services in Belfast will see double doors being re-introduced on double decker buses, facilitating faster boarding and alighting, new contactless ticketing and improving fresh air flow on board for passengers.” 

“As we drive the transport transformation in Northern Ireland, we are working collaboratively with a range of partners from the industry to make real progress in tackling the climate crisis, enhancing air quality for health and wellbeing and reducing congestion.

“We are already seeing more people turn to public transport as our region starts to slowly recover; today marks the start of a new era for green active transport to inspire and incentivise modal shift from private car to a sustainable, healthier and smarter travel mode. 

“We would like to thank the Minister and her Department for their commitment and look forward to our continued partnership as we continue to help drive net zero carbon targets for Northern Ireland.” Chris concluded.

Wrightbus MD, Neil Collins, said: “We’re delighted that Translink will be the first operator to put our Wrightbus Electroliner into passenger service. It seems incredibly fitting that passengers in Northern Ireland will be the first to benefit from the revolutionary bus that was developed and built in Northern Ireland.

“Alongside the 20 Hydroliner hydrogen double decker buses, the zero-emission Electroliner bus – which is the fastest charging of its kind on the market – will help Belfast achieve its net zero targets by significantly reducing the amount of CO2 emitted across its public transport network.”

The public will have the opportunity to step inside the zero emission all-electric double-decker bus on the 10 November, as part of RE[act] Festival, a two week event organised by Linen Quarter Business Improvement District aimed at inspiring all industries and all walks of life to respond to the global climate crisis.  

Translink will attend the ‘Sustainable and Active Travel’ event at Custom House Square from 11:00am to 3:00pm with the session allowing people to experience the new electric bus first-hand and learn more about the organisation’s plans to support sustainable travel across Northern Ireland.

Travel & Tourism

4 Towns In Northern Ireland Voted Friendliest Visitor Destinations in UK

Tourism NI has welcomed the news that four towns in Northern Ireland have been awarded the friendliest visitor destinations in the UK with Enniskillen in County Fermanagh voted number one most welcoming in the UK.

Alongside Enniskillen, Ballycastle, County Antrim; Bushmills, County Antrim and Newcastle, County Down all appeared on the top 10 most welcoming list.

Tourism NI chief executive John McGrillen said the news was a much needed boost for the tourism sector in Northern Ireland that has experienced a two year blow to an industry which was riding high after a record breaking 2019 when revenue surpassed £1 billion for the first time.

He added: “While it has been two years of unprecedented crisis for the industry, I am pleased to know that despite the enormous challenges, our towns have dominated the top 10 list of friendliest visitor destinations. The news comes in the same week as the Game of Thrones Studio Tour opens its doors to the public and will help to put Northern Ireland on the map as a must visit destination for those far and wide.”

McGrillen believes the tourism industry has been incredibly resilient in the face of the global pandemic. 

“There will be brighter opportunities in the years ahead and I have confidence that with the appropriate support, tourism in Northern Ireland will bounce back,” he said. 

Other locations which made the top 10 list were Frome in Somerset; Glastonbury, Somerset: Shetland; Wick, Highlands and Kelso, Scottish Borders.

Following research from more than 232 million verified reviews as part of’s 10th annual Traveller Review Awards, the awards recognise more than 1.25 million travel providers around the world for their hospitality, including 53,623 in the UK.

The winning list was decided by the total share of Traveller Review Award 2022 recipients when compared to the total number of eligible properties in that town or city.

McGrillen added: “Tourism is absolutely vital for us as it provides passengers for our public transport and supports sea and air routes; it generates revenue to support our culture and heritage assets and can contribute to the protection of our natural environment; it provides revenue for central and local government and promotes a positive image of Northern Ireland overseas, supporting foreign direct investment.”

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Travel & Tourism

Experience an ‘out of this world’ Christmas at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory

The Chair of the Council, Councillor Paul McLean and Santa enjoy the Christmas OM Odyssey as part of the OM Santa Experience at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory.

Enjoy an ‘out of this world’ Santa experience this Christmas at OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory.

This Christmas, children can enjoy a Santa experience with a difference at the new star gazing facility at Davagh Forest in the foothills of the Sperrin mountains.

During the OM Santa Experience, children, and adults alike, will be utterly ‘star struck’ as they are taken on a tour of the unique facility and then watch the Christmas OM Odyssey, a bespoke festive film capturing Santa’s magical journey through the sky on Christmas Eve.

The festive film will be screened on the side of the OM building, with families watching from a dedicated viewing area using individual headsets.

Children will then get to write their letters to Santa in the crafts room before getting to deliver them in person to the man himself during a special visit where they will receive a stocking full of goodies.

The OM Santa Experience will run over three weekends beginning on Sunday 28 November and finishing on Sunday 12 December. Tickets cost £10 per child and adults go free (limited to two adults per family).

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean is pleased the Council can offer this festive event to families in the district.

“The last 20 months have been extremely difficult for all of us and none more so than for our children who have had to endure so much and adapt to different ways of doing things in almost all aspects of their lives. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration and so it pleases me greatly that we can offer this one-of-a-kind magical Christmas experience to families and children in Mid Ulster this Christmas.

“This year marks OM’s first Christmas, having only opened its doors to the public in June this year. The Santa experience is the perfect debut seasonal event for the centre, complementing and enhancing its already established and successful offering and extending its appeal to the family market.”To book your tickets for the OM Santa Experience, go or telephone the Observatory on: 028 8676 0681

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