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Cork light rail plans roll forward

Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020 4:42pm

A team of engineers will be appointed next month to examine the light rail route that’s planned as part of the €3.5 billion ambitious transport strategy for Cork.

The specialist engineers will undertake a route options analysis and develop initial designs for the proposed light rail line between Ballincollig and Mahon.

Representatives from the National Transport Authority (NTA) this week briefed Cork city councillors on this as part of an update on the multi-billion euro Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) which includes investment in bus, light rail, suburban rail, walking, cycling and road networks.

The NTA said that the CMATS will support the growth in Cork’s population to almost half a million people and will reverse current trends and increase the mode share of walking-cycling-public transport trips to greater than 50 per cent with car mode share reduced to less than 50 per cent.

The NTA predict that 32 per cent of population and 60 per cent of jobs will be within the light rail catchment area while 19 per cent of population and 30 per cent of jobs will be within the suburban rail catchment area.

Independent Cllr Mick Finn described it as an “exciting package for Cork”, but the plan has been criticised for not incorporating Carrigaline, Rochestown, Togher or other commuter areas.

Cllr Finn said: “It will help redress the imbalance in infrastructural development outside Dublin to date and take on projects and ideas that have been in the pipeline for some time in this city and county. This level of infrastructural investment in CMATS is one of the significant benefits of the boundary extension which this council, elected councillors and officials, worked so hard towards and which will underpin the growth of the city to one of scale in Europe.”

BusConnects

CMATS envisages an expanded bus network for Cork with more bus routes and higher frequency services. The strategy includes increasing the bus fleet size to 220 vehicles, 100km of bus lanes/priority measures will be provided which is a seven-fold increase from current level while they predict that 49,000 passengers will use the BusConnects mode of transport at morning peak hour.

Suburban rail network

This includes eight new stations, three on the northside and five east of the city centre. A 10km dual track to Midleton is planned as is full electrification of the 62km network between Midleton, Cobh and Mallow. 22 new two-car electric train sets are also included in the proposed CMATS.

Cycling network

Under the CMATS it is intended to deliver the full cycling network that has already been identified in work undertaken with Cork City Council and Cork County Council:

•200km of primary cycling routes

•150km of secondary cycling routes

•140km of greenways

•60km of inter-urban cycling routes

•Potential for 20 million cycling trips per annum

Light rail network

CMATS proposes a Luas line extending from Ballincollig to Mahon, delivering:

•A 17km light rail network

•25 stops connecting key locations, including CIT, UCC, the city centre, Kent Station and the docklands.

•46 million passengers annually

Road network

CMATS includes for the development of key road schemes in the Cork area over the period of the strategy, including:

•Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade

•M28 Cork to Ringskiddy

•Northern Distributor Road

•Southern Distributor Road

•Cork North Ring Road

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