Plans for a light rail system for city dashed

Plans for a light rail system for city dashed

HOPES for light rail in Cork look to have been dashed after Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed there are currently 'no plans' to develop a Leeside Luas.

Bus lanes, green routes, cycle lanes, public transport upgrades and safety measures for pedestrians will instead be the focus of government spending, Mr Ross added.

It was hoped that some portion of the €3.6 billion earmarked for investment in public transport under the capital plan would go towards the establishment of a light rail system in Cork.

The move was viewed as particularly important in the context of the proposed docklands development and the city boundary extension, both of which will result in a major population surge in Cork city in the coming years.

However, Mr Ross has moved to dampen ambitions, confirming that light rail is not on the agenda.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Ross said that Cork's public transport needs 'will be kept under review.'

The Dublin TD added that he will be seeking more funding for public transport works as part of the review of the capital plan, which is currently underway.

Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire criticised the decision as 'lacking vision' for the southern region.

Mr Ó Laoghaire said, "I am disappointed with the Minister's response. I think in the context of an expanding city and the forthcoming development of the north and south docks, this has to be considered. Development of such a system will take many years so there is no sense in leaving it until the last minute. We must be forward planning and show some vision."

The Togher TD pointed to the huge volumes of traffic coming into the city from areas like Carrigaline, Douglas and Ballincollig, describing the current levels as 'scarcely manageable.'

He said, "This will only escalate. While there are road projects that can alleviate this, public transport has to be a part of this. We need to take cars off the road. It would have enormous potential and could revitalise areas of the city, transforming Cork into a modern, significant, European city."

Mr Ó Laoghaire has called on Minister Ross to conduct a feasibility study into the revamp of Cork's public transport network.

Other proposals, such as a rapid bus network, are believed to be on the table, though these are long-term aims included in the Ireland 2050 document.

The Sinn Féin TD added, "Cork needs this kind of vision."

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