Ireland could be home to a second light rail network, that is if a new transport strategy for the Cork Metropolitan Area over the next two decades goes ahead. The revised strategy has been released following a consultation period and confirms the desire for the region to have light rail as part of its overall transport strategy.
There has been detailed analysis of project travel demand in the area and this determined that the East-West Transit Corridor is best served by a new light rail system. 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, lend themselves towards a linear route being built from Ballincollig in the west to Mahon in the east – via Cork City Centre.
The proposed route would run for 17km and have 25 stops with 27 trams required to operate a 5 minute frequency service with end to end journey times of 47 minutes. This service frequency would be required to cover the expected level of passenger demand in 2040 with the plan expecting 46 million passengers a year to be carried. The suggestion is similar vehicles to those used in Dublin could be ordered but that is for the future.
The plan is that Ballincollig, the proposed Cork Science and Innovation Park, Cork Institute of Technology, Cork University Hospital, University College Cork, Cork City Centre, Kent Station/Cork North Docklands, Cork South Docklands and Mahon would need to be in the catchment area of the line.
Obviously, light rail is a long-term objective and in the preceding period it is planned that a high frequency bus service will be operated between Mahon and Ballincollig.
With the overall strategy covering all transport in the Cork region an exact cost of the light rail part is not given but a total cost for the strategy is said to be 1 billion euros. The light rail scheme would be delivered towards the end of this two decade period. Other aspects of the strategy include the Enhanced BusConnects Network, Suburban Rail, cycling and walking.
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, said: “The Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy is all about providing long-term investment in sustainable mobility, by implementing transport projects for Cork including BusConnects, light rail, heavy rail and cycling. I believe that process of deliberation consultation has resulted in a strategy will deliver major changes to the city and county of Cork, and NTA looks forward to working with both councils in making it happen without delay. CMATS will deliver change at both the city and regional level in Cork, providing a reliable sustainable transport offering for local communities.”