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€ 573 Million Innovative "Tram-Train" Rail System Proposed for Cork
Tuesday September 16, 2008 15:03 by Brian Guckian
Scheme Requires Cancellation of Proposed Northern Ring Road
CORK City and County Councils could show genuine support for European Mobility Week and for Sustainable Transport policies in general by cancelling their unsustainable proposed Northern Ring Road scheme and spending the funds on an innovative € 573 million city- and county-wide rail system using continental European "tram-train" technology instead, a national sustainable transport researcher and campaigner, Brian Guckian, has said.
"Tram-train" technology, originally pioneered in Germany, uses rail vehicles similar to conventional trams, but which can run on the existing rail network as well as on-street. Mr. Guckian said that Cork lent itself very well to this technology as it had good penetration of conventional rail, and was also suitable for on-street light rail.
The technology combines both tram and conventional rail systems so that in future, it was possible that services could run through from Midleton, Cobh and Blarney into the city centre and on to destinations that were rail-served in the past, such as Ballincollig, Passage, Carrigaline and Bandon. The format was popular in Germany and France and was about to be trialled in the UK.
Mr. Guckian said he had carried out outline work on a wide-ranging proposal that would see 95 km of re-built railway and 29 km of adapted existing railway providing a comprehensive, genuine and sustainable tram-train network for Cork city and county. Based on cutting-edge European transport technology, it powerfully challenged the failed US-style highway-building policies of the Councils which dated from the 1960s and which were now greatly out-moded at a time of increasing fuel prices and climate change.
The proposal would also serve Cork Airport and the main industrial centres, and featured a city centre loop that would take in the main retail and leisure areas and the university. The network could also be engineered to carry freight, for which there currently was an enormous potential market as road freight became increasingly costly.
At an overall estimated cost of € 573 million, Mr. Guckian pointed out that in comparison, the proposed Northern Ring Road - which was contrary to EU policies on sustainable transport - had been estimated to cost € 500 million. He said it was time for the Councils to show courage, to "kick the roads habit" and fully embrace sustainable transport policies that included not just comprehensive rail development, but also road conversions to facilitate the development of key cycle- and pedestrian-only "Greenways" through the city. "It's time to live in the 21st century and to leave the 1960s behind", he said.
The tram-train rail system proposal could be implemented jointly by Cork City and County Councils, the Railway Procurement Agency and Iarnrod Eireann and would feature full public participation as mandated by best practice in community planning and by EU legislation.
Mr. Guckian concluded that at present Cork was a heavily roads-biased city, notwithstanding the re-opening of the short rail line to Midleton, and, like other cities, would need massive cultural and political change if it was to achieve national targets on emissions cuts and genuine reductions in car use and oil dependency.
Contact: Brian Guckian 087 9140105 firstname.lastname@example.org