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Light rail network proposed for Cork under ambitious new transport strategy

The NTA’s plans are estimated to cost €3.5 billion.

Capture Cork's proposed new light-rail system on Washington street. Source: Philip Watkin/3Ddesignshop.com

A NEW €1 BILLION light rail system for Cork city has been proposed under ambitious new transport plans from the National Transport Authority (NTA). 

The draft Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy 2040 proposes to build a light rail network running between Ballincollig to Mahon via the city centre in conjunction with increased bus services and improved cycling infrastructure.

It’s estimated that this new Luas-style tram system will carry 46 million passengers per year and will take 27 minutes to travel from Ballincollig to Cork city centre. 

Under the plan, the light rail newtork will run in conjunction with improved bus and suburban rail services in the city, the NTA has said. 

The authority proposes to bring 220 new double-decker vehicles into service with a total of 200km of cross city routes planned to come on-stream under its BusConnects plan. 

Under the €545 million bus improvements part of the transport strategy, the NTA plans to increase Cork’s bus lane network from 14 kilometres to 100 kilometres by 2040.

As well as light rail, Cork’s current suburban rail network will be developed with new train stations planned at the following locations:

  • Tivoli Docks
  • Dunkettle
  • Water Rock
  • Ballynoe
  • Carrigtwohill West
  • Blackpool / Kilbarry
  • Monard
  • Blarney / Stoneview

The overall transport strategy for Cork is estimated to cost €3.5 billion. 

Capture Proposed Light Rail Network for Cork City

In addition to public transport, the ambitious plans also propose increasing walking and cycling in Cork City. 

Improvements to cycling routes around the city include proposals to segregate routes along waterfront areas as well as develop a 200 kilometre cycling network. 

“For Cork to grow sustainably as forecast its street network must facilitate more walking and cycling,” the NTA has said.

Its arterial routes must also prioritise the movement of buses, according to the authority.

Within the city, streets will have “more of a place function and will require a greater emphasis on liveability, motor traffic restraint and traffic calming.”

As a result, new roads will be required in some cases to “unlock housing and commercial development and to support local access in planned growth areas,” the NTA has said. The road improvement portion of the strategy is estimated to cost €1.4 billion. 

The draft strategy also proposes to restrict heavy goods vehicles in the city centre. 

NTA CEO Anne Graham has said the ambitious plans “will deliver an accessible, integrated transport network that enables the sustainable growth of the Cork Metropolitan Area as a dynamic, connected, and internationally competitive European city region as envisaged by the National Planning Framework 2040.”

“An exciting vision of transport that will encourage more people to use sustainable modes is at the core of this strategy.”

The plans will now be put out for a six-week public consultation period, beginning on 5 June at the Imperial Hotel in Cork City.  

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