Liam Quaide, Green Party local election candidate for East Cork, has called for more ambition in the development of a rail and light rail network in Cork city and county.
Plans contained in the Cork Metropolitan Area Draft Transport Strategy 2040 include a 17km light rail network with 25 stops from Ballincollig to Mahon Point costing €1bn. The report also proposes new commuter train stations, including Blackpool, Tivoli, Carrigtowhill West and Water Rock.
Youghal left behind
Speaking after details of the plan were released, Mr. Quaide, said:
"A glaring omission from this report is any kind of plan to re-open the rail link between Youghal and Midleton. This exposes the false claim made by several public representatives that the Greenway plans would safeguard the line for future rail use. What is clear is that while other parts of Cork are moving ahead with modern public transport Youghal is getting left behind. Thousands of East Cork residents now see no end in sight to their commuting ordeal.
Mr Quaide also questioned the long time-frame given for completion of the project. "The Green Party has been calling for a light rail network in Cork since 2006. When the LUAS was introduced in Dublin, assurances were given that Cork would soon follow suit. What we now have is a report, over a year late, which proposes a light rail network by 2040. The Dáil declared a climate and biodiversity emergency last week. The UN is saying transformative development of our public transport system is required to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently. We should be aiming to have a light rail system and an expanded rail network in place by 2025."
The timing of this transport plan in advance of local and European elections is telling. We have seen from other major capital projects that the initial gloss of the press release fades quickly as delays kick in and costs escalate."
Ownership of transport network
Mr Quaide also raised the issue of ownership of the proposed transport network:
"It is essential that the Irish taxpayer is properly informed of the ownership of the project. As with the rural broadband debacle, there is a danger that the taxpayer could end up paying for the infrastructure but not reaping the benefits. We need to ensure that profits come back into the region and are ring-fenced for other transport projects and maintenance as our population grows.