Plans for a LUAS system in Cork are revealed

Plans for a LUAS system in Cork are revealed
A conceptual image of Cork's proposed new light-rail system on Washington street. Pic: Philip Watkin of 3ddesignshop.com

A new transport blueprint for Cork includes a 25-stop light rail system and six new park and ride facilities across the city by 2040.

The Cork Metropolitan Area Draft Transport Strategy 2040 aims to provide a "better, more efficient and sustainable" transport network and will go to public consultation from Wednesday until June 28 with information events being held in city and county locations over the next month.

  • A 17km, 27-tram light rail network with 25 stops from Ballincollig to Mahon Point costing €1bn.
  • Six new train stations Monard, Blackpool, Tivoli, Carrigtwohill West, Water Rock and Ballynoe.
  • €1.39bn invested in roads with a Cork North Ring Road delivered by 2035.
  • Restrictions in heavy goods vehicles entering the city centre and installation of Intelligent Transport Systems.
  • Development of Park and Rides at six new locations at Ballincollig, Blarney, Dunkettle, Carr’s Hill, Bandon Road and Cork Airport.
  • A €545M plan to develop 100km of bus lanes and bus priority measures with 220 double-decker buses required.
  • 200km of new and upgraded footpaths and 140km of greenways.
  • A 200km primary cycling network with expansion of bike-sharing schemes and showering facilities for cyclists.

A €1bn light rail network from Ballincollig to Mahon Point carrying 46m passengers per year is outlined in the document.

Computer generated image of a light rail system operating in Blackrock, Cork on the 'old railway' line, now a popular walking and cycling Greenway. Pic: Philip Watkin of 3ddesignshop.com
Computer generated image of a light rail system operating in Blackrock, Cork on the 'old railway' line, now a popular walking and cycling Greenway. Pic: Philip Watkin of 3ddesignshop.com

Twenty-five stops are proposed over 17km of light rail line at Ballincollig, Cork Science and Innovation Park, CIT, CUH, County Hall, UCC, Patrick Street, Kent Station, the Docklands and Mahon Point.

It is estimated it will take 27 minutes to get from Ballincollig to Patrick Street and 47 minutes from Ballincollig to Mahon point.

A map of the possible route is indicative only and further studies will be required to develop the specific route.

A €274m improved suburban rail system is also part of the plans from Blarney to Midleton and Glounthaune to Cobh with eight brand new rail stations.

A map showing an indicative outline of the light rail route between Ballincollig and Mahon Point.
A map showing an indicative outline of the light rail route between Ballincollig and Mahon Point.

The document says this will cater for up to 2,500 passengers per hour and 16m per year with a journey time of 12 minutes from Blarney to Kent Station and 50 minutes from Midleton/Cobh to Mallow.

Park and rides are planned for Blarney, Ballincollig, Bandon Road, Carr's Hill, Dunkettle and Cork Airport.

A €1.39bn road network improvement plan includes a Cork North Ring Road by 2035.

Proposed bus priority measures include approximately 100km of new bus lanes, representing an increase in bus lanes of 700%.

Proposals for a light rail system could include a new bridge from Kent Station to the Docklands. Pic: Philip Watkin of 3ddesignshop.com
Proposals for a light rail system could include a new bridge from Kent Station to the Docklands. Pic: Philip Watkin of 3ddesignshop.com

Cycle infrastructure improvements will see the further roll-out of bike share schemes including consideration of dockless bikes, shower and changing facilities, and a significant uplift in residential, visitor and workplace cycle parking as part of a plan to develop a coherent network of east-west and north-south cycle routes.

The document also outlines improvements for walkers with 140km of greenway expected to bring annual walking trips to 90m with 200km of new and upgraded footpaths.

The document says light rail is key to the future of Cork transport: “The development of an east-west mass transit, rapid transport corridor has been a long-term objective for the Cork Metropolitan Area (CMA) articulated by the joint Cork Area Strategic Plan (CASP) and a number of statutory development plans and local area plans of both local authorities.

A computer-generated view of Douglas village. The CMATS plan includes proposals for the major upgrade of Cork's bus network. Pic: Philip Watkin of 3ddesignshop.com
A computer-generated view of Douglas village. The CMATS plan includes proposals for the major upgrade of Cork's bus network. Pic: Philip Watkin of 3ddesignshop.com

“Following detailed analysis of projected travel demand within the CMA, this strategy proposes that the East-West Transit Corridor is best served through the provision of a new Light Rail Transit (LRT) tram system.

“This analysis marks a departure from previous proposals for a lower capacity Bus Rapid transport (BRT) system to reflect the more ambitious growth targets of the National Planning Framework and the requirement to future-proof such a route up to and beyond, the 2040 horizon year. The provision of LRT system will be a focal point to enable the growth of population, employment health and educational uses as envisaged by the NPF 2040. The LRT system will unlock strategic development opportunity sites and windfall sites in its catchment areas.”

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