IT has emerged that it could now take years before a railway station is built in Dunkettle, on the eastern side of Cork city.
Planning permission for the station – which would have formed the final part of the Cork-Midleton commuter line – has been refused by Bord Pleanála following a row over ownership of the land between the National Roads Authority (NRA), Iarnród Éireann and Cork County Council.
The NRA successfully argued that although the local authority owned the land, it was given it to use for future upgrading of the interchange adjacent to the Jack Lynch Tunnel.
Iarnród Éireann had earmarked the land for a railway station and park and ride facility.
The NRA said it must retain the site for future junction improvements works but it could take some years before it has the budget to carry them out.
“We have funding for a feasibility study to progress the planning and design phase. But we will also have to look at our budgetary situation as well,” a spokesman for the NRA said.
He added the best case scenario was that it could take a couple of years at minimum before they could move to construction.
Iarnród Éireann has been left with two alternatives. Either it waits to see if the NRA project leaves some of the land vacant for the station or it will have to look at alternatives sites.
In either case it will take a considerable amount of time to go through the planning process and construct the station.
“We had hoped to build on the site but we accept the ruling by Bord Pleanála. “We will have to await the outcome of the NRA design there or look at alternative sites. We will also have to look at our budgetary situation as well,” an Iarnród Éireann spokesman said.
The county council first identified the site in July 2006, and granted Iarnród Éireann permission to build on it on June 3, 2008. It was appealed by the NRA. Bord Pleanála upheld their appeal on December 1.
The Dunkettle station has the potential to be the most used on the commuter line, especially by the thousands of workers from the north Cork region who travel into the city on a daily basis.
Locally-based Cllr John Gilroy described the situation as a debacle.
“The community association in Glanmire had been lobbying for the station since 2000. There are 18,000 people living in Glanmire and the vast majority use their cars to commute into the city. The train would have taken scores of cars off the roads. It is very disappointing,” Mr Gilroy said.
“There is absolutely no joined up thinking about this,” he added.
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