Improvements and Projects


Translink is committed to maintaining and enhancing our infrastructure to deliver a high quality, safe and sustainable public transport network today and for future generations.

An essential public service, public transport is fundamental to the economic, social and environmental well-being of our society. As we emerge from this pandemic, it will be vital that well-used public transport networks return to their essential role of providing greener, healthier and more active travel options for a better economic recovery.

Following removal of the overbridge structure between Whitehouse Park and Loughshore Manor in October 2021, the resultant local ground conditions were different to that expected meaning that the construction of a new retaining wall is now required at this location.

While this work was not envisaged at the outset of the project, the completion of this wall installation is now vital to maintain high safety standards in relation to the railway embankment. This could not be carried out during the recent Christmas / New Year line closure as the design process was still underway and it also could not have been done at the same time as the track renewal. 

To complete these works, nightworks will take place between mid-May and the end of June and the use of the compound site adjacent to the Northern Regional College will be required. This compound site has been scaled back in recent months and will be demobilised during day shifts once this final work has been carried out. Existing acoustic barriers will remain in place around the compound for the time being and white noise emitters will be fitted to vehicles to try and keep disruption to a minimum. 

The continued patience of local residents is greatly appreciated as we work to complete the final stage of this essential infrastructure project.

Project Webinars

If you missed our webinar presentation with the project team on 14 December 2021, you could still catch the recording. 

Watch our webinar from 14 December on youtube

If you missed our webinar presentation with the project team on 17 June 2021, you could still catch the recording.

Watch our webinar from 17 June on youtube

Why is this engineering work needed?

This essential engineering project will see a major renewal of existing rail infrastructure through a project called the Dark Arches to Whiteabbey Track Renewal (DAWTR). 

This area of railway track runs under a series of bridges and archways and has become known as the ‘Dark Arches’.

It represents a major capital investment by the Department for Infrastructure and is essential to maintain high safety standards and operational performance. 

Map of Works

The proposed works include the full renewal of approximately 840m of track along the ‘Dark Arches’ to Whiteabbey including track drainage, new cable routes and retaining wall structures. Signalling upgrades will also take place. 

As one of the busiest sections on the network it has significant strategic importance as the gateway to Belfast from the Derry~Londonderry and Larne lines. It is vital we take these steps to invest and build back better to deliver fit for purpose infrastructure for well into the future.

How will this work be carried out?

To minimise the overall impact and disruption to passengers and local residents, Translink will work closely with their contractors to phase the delivery of the project, commencing in July 2021.

The main engineering works are due to take place during the Christmas holiday period at the end of this year (2021) when there is typically less passenger demand, with schools and many workplaces closed, to undertake this essential maintenance work.

We will work with our contractors to complete the project as quickly as possible and ensure disruption is kept to a minimum to reduce any inconvenience caused.

We would ask you to join us on our journey to build a better future, offering more opportunities through our public transport infrastructure and services. We will keep you updated as this project progresses.

Project Timeline

  • Summer / Autumn 2021:
    • Night-time working for advanced civil engineering preparatory works
    • Demolition of an overline bridge structure
  • Winter 2021 / 2022:
    • Main works with full blockade of line with day and night-time working required (25th December 2021 - 4th January 2022)
    • Night-time working required for drainage and retaining wall works
  • Spring 2022:
    • Project substantially complete
    • Decommissioning of compound sites

*Dates may be subject to change

Impact of works

During the track renewal works, engineering trains and construction plant will be operating along the line. We will be working hard with our contractors to minimise any noise or impact on the local residents living in the surrounding area.

We have carefully considered the best timing to deliver this important project in order to minimise the overall impact for passengers and local residents. Using the Christmas / New Year holiday period means there are less passengers travelling, and the closure allows us to complete the works in an efficient and effective way. We are also mindful of the need to ensure public transport into Belfast city centre at this crucial time is maintained. 

  • Mitigation measures will be implemented to minimise impact and disruption. e.g. noise attenuation, timing of deliveries, appropriate management of site compounds and considerate working by contractors at all times

Let’s go together

This investment will protect our network enabling people to stay connected to work, shop, socialise, study and for visitors. It also helps to care for our environment addressing climate change and removing harmful air pollution from the air we breathe by attracting more people to travel by train and less by private car.

Over recent years public transport in the greater Belfast area has been enhanced with the introduction of Glider, modern eco-friendly Metro vehicles and the refurbishment of Lanyon Place Train Station. Work has started on the exciting new Belfast Transport Hub and plans are underway for a new train station at York Road.

Later this year, we will see new zero emission buses in Belfast and new longer trains with the arrival of our new train carriages. There are also plans for the introduction of Glider phase 2 serving the North and South of the city as we work towards a greener recovery.

Works Update


Nightworks are ongoing to carry out the remaining drainage and retaining wall works.

A letter was issued by the contractor, Babcock, at the end of January 2022, updating railway neighbours on the current status of the works.

Translink continue to partner with local organisations, such as the Northern Regional College and Whiteabbey Community Group, to deliver initiatives alongside the project for the benefit of the wider village.


The project team has successfully completed the renewal of approximately 840m of track between Whitehouse Park and Whiteabbey Station during a closure of the railway line between 24th December 2021 and 4th January 2022. This involved 24 hour working for the duration of the Christmas / New Year period in challenging weather conditions.

The engineering works involved scraping out a significant amount of spoil, unloading new ballast, installation of new sleepers and rails as well as placement of top stone. ‘Tamping’ was undertaken to pack the new ballast under the railway. Signalling and drainage works were also completed alongside the renewal works.

A new compound site at Sanda Road / Shore Road was utilised to support the delivery of these works alongside the main compound at Northern Regional College. The compound at Whitehouse Park was retained during the Christmas period to provide flexibility when required.

Night works will continue until March 2022 to finish drainage and retaining wall works and this will be predominantly towards Whiteabbey Station.


The demolition of Overbridge 10 between Whitehouse Park and Loughshore Manor was successfully completed by our contractors during a closure of the railway line on 2nd and 3rd October.

Our contractor Babcock has also introduced further mitigation measures at the Shore Road compound site such as additional acoustic barriers at several locations to improve noise attenuation, putting back the commencement of day shifts until 8am and introducing a minibus from the Northern Regional College site so contractors do not park along the Shore Road.

Night working is continuing where our contractors are installing new trackside drainage and retaining walls.


Night working has been ongoing throughout the summer months along the extent of the track renewal area starting near Whitehouse Park and working towards Whiteabbey Station.

These are preparatory civil engineering works which need to be completed to allow our contractor to replace the railway track during the Christmas / New Year line closure.

Progress has been made on the installation of retaining walls with re-modelling of earthwork slopes and drilling of kingposts alongside the track. New drainage is also being installed under the track at several locations. Both these elements of work will continue over the coming weeks.

All preparations have been completed in advance of the weekend line closure on 2nd / 3rd October 2021 for the demolition of overbridge 10 between Whitehouse Park and Loughshore Manor with a further notification letter posted to residents.

We are also continuing to work with a number of groups in the area to support community initiatives and have been delighted to provide funding for biodiversity projects at six local primary schools.


Engineering work has been progressing well as part of the Dark Arches project. Temporary contractor compounds have now been established at sites adjacent to the Northern Regional College and off the Shore Road (between Loughshore Manor and Whitehouse Park). These sites will be reinstated by the contractor upon completion of the project.

The ramp construction from both compounds to track level has also been completed and this allows Road Rail Vehicles (RRVs) to access the track from the compounds.

We are now moving forward with further night works along the extent of the track renewal area shown on the map on this webpage. This will include cable management, removal of vegetation, embankment regrading works and construction of retaining walls.

Working with the Community

We have engaged significantly with the local community and elected representatives to explain how the works will be carried out and what to expect. This will continue throughout the duration of the project. We will ensure all our communications are delivered in line with the latest Covid-19 safety guidelines using a range of digital platforms alongside leaflet drops and presentations as appropriate. We also have a community helpline set up with our contractor, Babcock Rail.

Further Information or Feedback

If anyone has concerns with how the works are being carried out they can contact the contractors dedicated control centre on +44 (0)20 8629 5060 then option 5 (Rail Systems), then option 1 (Translink).