Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Executive launches Titanic funds

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The executive is to back a plan for the Titanic quarter

A 97m proposal for a landmark building in the Titanic Quarter has been backed by the Stormont Executive.

Work on the 'Titanic signature project' is to start in January. The executive said it would put 43m to the cost.

Meanwhile, a rapid transit system for Belfast has also been given the green light by ministers.

The bus-based system will connect the east and west of the city, and the Titanic Quarter, with the city centre at an estimated cost of 150m.

Designs for the system will be drawn up and building is due to start in 2011. It is expected to carry 5.5m passengers a year, with a bus arriving every five minutes during rush hour.

"The pilot system will have three routes," said Transport Minister Conor Murphy.

"One running from Dundonald in the east to the city centre; one serving the development in Titanic Quarter and one from the city centre to the Royal Victoria Hospital and beyond into west Belfast.

"The exact alignments of these routes will be established through the detailed design stage."

The minister said the new transport network would encourage many motorists to leave their cars at home.

'Absolutely vital'

The executive believes the building of the Titanic signature project will help the construction industry as it faces a severe downturn.

Economy Minister Arlene Foster said 600 jobs would be created during its construction.

She said it was "absolutely vital" that the building will open to the public ahead of the centenary of the boat's sinking in April 2012.

It is expected to attract 400,000 visitors a year.

The rest of the 53m funding will come from the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Belfast City Council and private developers.

The project was hit by a big set-back last year when the proposal failed to win lottery funding.

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