DETAILED proposals for a light rail system through Cork city have come under fire for failing to include densely populated commuter areas on the southern suburbs.
Fianna Fáil's Seamus McGrath said large communities such as those in Carrigaline, Passage West, Rochestown, Douglas, and Togher have been excluded from the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) plan.
City Councillors were briefed by the NTA on Monday on the Luas-style line proposed between Ballincollig and Mahon, which will be 17km in length.
There are 25 proposed stops along the line, including at key locations including UCC, CIT, Kent Station, Patrick’s Street, and Mahon Point.
Next month a specialist engineering team is expected to be appointed to undertake a route options analysis and develop initial designs for the proposal.
There are also plans to improve Cork's suburban rail network, upgrade key roads and develop better cycling facilities, under the €3.5bn Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy 2040.
However, Mr McGrath said there are some worrying issues with the document for people on the southern side of the city.
He highlighted the enhanced cycling and bus connectivity as a positive but said implementation timelines needed to be more specific. He added that a 2028 completion date for the M28 “is far from ambitious enough”.
“A park & ride has been proposed for Carrigaline for some time and land has been zoned for the facility. The plan fails to progress this project which is also quite disappointing,” he added.
Meanwhile, Carrigtwohill-based Councillor Anthony Barry said the proposal for 10km of dual rail line to Midleton would be a welcome addition but needs a firm commitment for funding.
“A lot of the stuff in it is absolutely wonderful. The delivery of it - we’re looking at billions,” he said.
Conor Healy, Cork Chamber chief executive, said it was positive that the design phase was beginning, but added:
"Timelines must now be shortened and capital committed to ensure it moves from plan to reality. It is also essential that while design for light rail and bus is underway, the cycle network is moved rapidly forward in parallel.
“While it is encouraging to see the first steps being taken to build the team that will deliver the strategy, Cork Chamber continues to call for a greater NTA office to be established in Cork."
City Councillors overall were cautiously optimistic, with questions also raised at the briefing regarding the possibility of water transport.
NTA officials told councillors that while it wasn’t necessarily their remit “water transport could be an option to be explored."