‘Transforming’ Belfast’s electricity network


A ‘road train’ 60 metres in length wound its way through the streets of Belfast last night carrying essential electricity equipment to develop one of the city’s major substations. It represented over £3 million of infrastructure investment.


The abnormal load vehicle and its safety convoy carried a new 163 tonne transformer, the weight of 33 average elephants or 160 Ford Focus cars, from the Port of Belfast to Northern Ireland Electricity’s (NIE) Hannahstown substation on the Glen Road. 


Moving such a big and heavy load required specialist contractors and a police escort. The transformer had to be pulled by a lorry in front and pushed from a lorry at the back. Both of these vehicles had to carry additional weight or ballast to ensure good road traction.

The entire vehicle was 60 metres in length, 4.9 metres high and 4.9 metres wide and required considerable skill to manoeuvre around the city’s corners and junctions.

After completing its journey from where it was built in Belgium, the transformer has this morning been installed in its new home in West Belfast.

Trevor Harron, NIE Project Manager, said, “The installation of this transformer has been years in the planning. Managing an electricity network is all about looking forward and understanding future customer demands. This new equipment will help us to extend the capacity of the Hannahstown substation. We’re glad that the final leg of the journey last night and the installation onto its specially built ‘plinth’ this morning passed without incident.”

The new 275/110kV transformer will considerably increase the capacity of the substation and is part of NIE’s overall transmission network reinforcement and substation refurbishment programme. Hannahstown substation supplies customers in half of Belfast and the greater Belfast area including Lisburn.