Is Cork going to join the light rail club?

Will Ireland have a second city with a light rail line in the future? If the latest plans released by the National Transport Authority (NTA) come to fruition it will with proposals for a new line from east to west in the city of Cork. The Cork Transport Strategy has not only proposed this line but also suggests that by 2040 more than half of journeys in the city will be made by sustainable transport modes compared to just a third at the moment.

This strategy has been published by the NTA in conjunction with Cork County Council, Cork City Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and is meant to provide a framework which will enable the planning and delivery of transport infrastructure and services in the Cork Metropolitan Area over the next 20 years.

Of most interest to us is the proposal for a light rail line running east to west between Ballincollig and Mahon. Detailed analysis of expected travel demand in this area was undertaken for the strategy and this determined that this corridor would be best served by a light rail line. It is said that the “topography and distribution of existing trip generators and attractors, combined with the proposed development opportunity areas within Cork City and its suburbs, indicate the desirability for a linear route from Ballincollig in the west to Mahon in the east, via Cork City Centre.”

The light rail line would serve places such as Cork University Hospital, University College Cork, Cork City Centre and Cork North and South Docklands – all of which are expected to provide plenty of passengers for a light rail line. 25 stops would be provided with an estimated end to end journey time of 47 minutes. In order to provide for the number of projected passengers the report says that 27 vehicles would be needed with a service running every 5 minutes. As it is expected to be a more long-term plan the tram would be preceded by a high frequency bus service along a similar route.

Trams are only part of the wider strategy with plans also in hand for walking, cycling, buses, suburban rail and road across the two decades it covers. This would include some key cycle routes put into place, the prioritising of bus services over general traffic and new stations on the local railway network.

The whole strategy isn’t yet set in stone with a public consultation now open until Friday 28th June. All the documents relating to the Strategy are available on the NTA website. The final strategy is due to be published later this year.

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