Light rail system part of €3.5bn Cork transport plan

A conceptual image of Cork's proposed new light-rail system on Washington street. Image: Philip Watkin, 3ddesignshop.com

A €1bn light rail system between Ballincollig and Mahon Point via the city centre, as well as eight new railway stations and 100km of bus lanes, are contained in a radical new transport plan for Cork.

The draft Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy 2040, which is due to be launched tomorrow, also proposes a range of enhanced public transport services over the next two decades. It includes:

  • A high-frequency east-west bus corridor, as a precursor to a Luas-like system, and a north-south corridor, with a link to Cork Airport, as well as six strategic park-and-ride sites;
  • New commuter rail stations at Blarney/Stoneview, Monard, and Blackpool/Kilbarry, on the Mallow line and at Tivoli, Dunkettle, Ballynoe, Carrigtwohill West and Water Rock, on the Cobh/Midleton line, and upgrades to stations in Cork, Cobh, and Mallow;
  • The electrification of the suburban rail network in Cork and the addition of 10km of dual track between Cobh Junction and Midleton, as part of a €274m investment in rail services;
  • 100km of new bus lanes added to the existing 14km, under the NTA’s €545m Bus Connects plan.

The €3.5bn plan, which was developed by the National Transport Authority, in conjunction with Cork City Council, Cork County Council, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, will facilitate new employment and housing in the City Docks and Tivoli.

The biggest element of the strategy is the €1bn development of a 17km light rail system connecting Ballincollig and Mahon Point, via St Patrick’s St and Kent Station. It will have 25 stops.

Image showing a planned LUAS for Cork sharing the old Blackrock railway line greenway.
Image showing a planned LUAS for Cork sharing the old Blackrock railway line greenway.

Trams could carry 46m passengers per year, with journey times of 27 minutes from Ballincollig to the city centre. Construction of the light rail system is not likely to start until 2031.

Despite the emphasis on public transport, €1.4bn will be spent on road projects, including the Dunkettle interchange upgrade, the M28 motorway to Ringaskiddy, the Cork North Ring Road, and upgrade of the South Ring Road. The NTA says Cork will be the fastest-growing city-region in Ireland, with a projected 50%-60% increase in its population by 2040.

“This demand needs to be managed and planned for carefully to safeguard and enhance Cork’s attractiveness to live, work, visit, and invest in,” the NTA says.

A map showing an indicative outline of the a light rail route between Ballincollig and Mahon Point. Image: Philip Watkin, 3ddesignshop.com
A map showing an indicative outline of the a light rail route between Ballincollig and Mahon Point. Image: Philip Watkin, 3ddesignshop.com

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