Iarnród Éireann plans closure of three level crossings in rail plan

CLOSURE of three level crossings and their replacement with a large bridge are planned by Iarnród Eireann under the company’s proposed €139 million new rail network for Cork.

Day two of a the inquiry into the proposed Euro 139 commuter rail upgrade for Cork, heard Iarnród Eireann officials state they wanted to close the level crossings on the Lower Glanmire Road for safety reasons, especially as more trains will be using that section of track when the Midleton line reopens in July 2008.

Objections have been made to the closures by residents in Myrtle Hill Terrace, Bellevue and Woodside Villas who use the crossings to access their homes. Their legal representatives are expected to outline their case tomorrow at the hearing which is taking place in Midleton ParkHotel.

Conor McGuinness, a senior projects manager with Iarnród Eireann, provided the chairman of the inquiry, Pat Buckley SC, with a letter from Mary Molloy, principal inspector with the Railway Safety Commission, which suggested the three crossings be closed.

Mark Kilcullen, a consultant engineer, showed the hearing computer-generated pictures of the steel-arched bridge which Iarnród Eireann is proposing to build across the railway line. Part of it will be pile-drived into the bed of the River Lee.

Andrew Hinds, vice-president of Irish Planning Institute and a senior executive planner with Cork County Council, said the railway project would sustain major population growth.

He said it was vital that part of the Midleton Northern Relief Road — from the Cork Road to Mill Road — be completed in advance of the reopening of the town’s railway station, otherwise serious traffic congestion could result for commuters.

Mr Hinds added that a site had also been reserved for a second railway station to the western side of the town, near Waterrock, if it was needed in future years to serve land which had been zoned in that area for more than 2,500 houses.

Michael Woulfe, who owns Railway House in Midleton, which is right next to the station, said he was in favour of its reopening, but expressed one rather unusual concern.

As semi-commercial beekeeper, Mr Woulfe runs a honey extracting operation at his home and was worried that some bees could escape and sting commuters.

He said he would be able to move his operation to another area, but requested some compensation from Iarnród Eireann for doing so.

Blandcrest and Gable Holdings, which have planning permission for 1,600 houses in Carrigtwohill, expressed concern that Iarnród Eireann was seeking to take away some of their land for an access road. Brian Archer who was representing the developers said this would mean they would be unable to build 34 houses.

Chris White an expert involved in station planning in the UK, who was acting on behalf of Blackpool Developments, claimed that the station in Midleton was being built in the wrong place. He said it should not be built on its former site east of Mill Road. He said the western side was a better option as that was where most of the new housing development would go.

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