PLANS were unveiled yesterday to develop Limerick as a rail-friendly city with its own suburban tram system linking city centre streets.
The Labour Party proposals are aimed at preparing Limerick as a national rail network hub.
Launching the blueprint, Deputy Jan O’Sullivan said Limerick had fallen behind Galway and Cork in preparing for a new era of rail travel.
She envisaged a new era would inevitably emerge when the recession ends and funds for improved travel became available.
“Limerick has not got off the ground yet in this regard and we have to put plans in place now so we will be prepared for future funding,” she said.
The plan proposes eight automated rail platforms at a number of disused stations circling the city at locations such as Moyross, Castleconnell, Raheen, Mungret and Dooradoyle.
Ms O’Sullivan, the party’s health spokesperson, said: “This service would enable commuters from a huge area on that side of Limerick to drive to that station for park and ride to complete their journey within the city.
“We envisage trams would be used which would connect the city centre in the same way as the Luas.
“New modern trams which can operate on rail lines and street tracks offer huge opportunities for our city. Limerick into the future must become the hub of a modern commuter network that connects communities and moves people in a safe, reliable, efficient manner that is environmentally friendly.”
On the broader travel front, the Labour plan envisages Limerick commanding a key strategic position in the national rail network.
Cllr Joe Leddin said: “Limerick has the potential to become a significant rail hub connecting to other cities such as Cork, Galway and the many towns in between. If, as a region, we are to remain competitive and attractive for companies to locate here then we must work together to integrate our transport infrastructure.
“The utilisation of our regional rail network as part of the ongoing development of infrastructure in the region is essential.”
He added: “With the city and county councils currently preparing their new six-year development plans, I would urge councillors to protect existing rail lines and not allow them to be dismantled. We can see the benefits already for people living in areas such as Birdhill and Castleconnell who now have the option to travel to Limerick by rail as opposed to road.”
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