The Kent station development, which has been in the pipeline for over a decade and in construction for almost two years, will also cut rail passenger journey times to the city centre.
The development features a new underground pedestrian access route from Horgan’s Quay, a new concourse, improved car parking facilities and a new internal access road to a public transport hub from where bus services will operate directly to the city centre via the quays.
The station’s existing Lower Glanmire Road entrance, car park, set-down area and taxi rank will continue to operate.
However, the concourse will give rail passengers the option, for the first time since the station was built in 1893, to enter or exit the station via Horgan’s Quay.
Passenger will be able to take a lift or stairs below ground to a new concourse, and then use a new subway which connects to the existing subway below the station’s railway tracks to get into the historic station building.
A new road which has been built to link Ship Street to Horgan’s Quay will be accessible by bus only.
Bus Éireann has confirmed that three services will operate from the public transport hub from tomorrow —route 205, which links the station to St Patrick’s Street and CIT, and routes 226 and 226A, which operate from the train station to the bus station, and on to Cork Airport and Kinsale.
“We continue to examine all options with more services likely to be extended in early 2018,” a spokesperson for the bus company said.
A spokesperson for Irish Rail said: “The development facilitates greater access to Cork city via Horgan’s Quay and also provides for greater interchange with other transport modes.”
However, Irish Rail said the new entrance also provides for future development at Horgan’s Quay, where a multi-million docklands development is on the way.
Planning was lodged in September for the €160m HQ quayside scheme which is an eight-building scheme on six acres at the city end of the 17-acre Horgan’s Quay railway station site.
It will include 237 apartments, a 136-bed hotel, 400,000sq ft of offices and a one-acre open plaza, retail, restaurant, a creche and leisure uses, and conservation of industrial rail buildings such as the Station House, the Carriage Shed, and a former Goods Shed.
It also includes 5,000sq metres of new public realm and walkways linking the buildings and Kent Station, called the Southern Plaza, which will open towards the River Lee and campshires/wharves across the road, and which are owned by Port of Cork.
The development deal was agreed between CIÉ and joint purchasers, the Clarendon Group and BAM Ireland.
CIÉ will be entitled to 10% of the income from the development, under the terms of the deal negotiated by agents Lisney on a 300-year lease.
It has been hailed as a significant new urban quarter for the city and a sign that the city’s ambitious docklands regeneration plan is poised to take off.
The development, which is likely to be delivered in phases over several years, could support up to 450 construction jobs, with enough offices being built for 5,000 workers.
It is across the river from where O’Callaghan Properties and BAM are developing Cork’s largest office complex on the Navigation House site on Albert Quay.
Kent Station opened on February 2, 1893 to replace two earlier stations — one for the Great Southern and Western Railway, located directly in front of the tunnel portal, and the Cork and Youghal Railway station which was located above the tunnel portal.