Sunday, December 17, 2006

CART for Cork?

Via Archiseek among other places I learn the Railway Procurement Authority are looking at a light rail system for Cork.

The routes most likely would be on the southwest of the city, taking in UCC and Ballincollig via the "straight road", a candidate for light rail if there was ever one given its bullet straight alignment, with a spur to CIT and the Regional Hospital - perhaps a loop along Wilton Road, Curraheen Road, Melbourne Road and a new alignment in the area between the industrial estate at Model Farm Road and a junction with the other line at Carrigrohane Road.

The tricky part, as has always been the case when discussing south side light rail in Cork (north side is all about steep gradients and rock throwing louts) is what to do about getting it into/out of the city centre and its narrow streets. I'm thinking especially about the bridge here and the route between there and Washington Street which is currently parallel one-ways in part. Then do you route it to Patrick Street, the traditional centre or along the South Mall which hasn't been dug up and replanned? There would be uproar if the multiple dig-ups of Patrick Street were repeated. To me, a Washington Street-Grand Parade-South Mall route is possibly a runner but would require serious disincentives to bringing cars into town - and then where do you terminate/join with other routes? Running into the railway station would be tempting but tricky from a traffic management perspective.

The other routes could be along the South Link to a park and ride (though the steep grade almost certainly rules out the airport without serious tunnelling) and the old Passage West line which would have the advantage of serving Pairc ui Chaoimh and Mahon Point - however is it wide enough and would there be opposition given its current designation as pedestrian/cycling?
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