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Transport Minister Announces Approval for New euro90m Cork Commuter Rail Service

Statement from Dept of Transport - Friday 21st May 2004



The Minister for Transport, Séamus Brennan T.D., signalled the first major extension to the national rail network in more than 100 years when he announced approval for a new euro90 million suburban commuter rail service for Cork city and county.

Minister Brennan said the Government decision will lead to the re-opening of the closed line to Midleton, the building of new stations, provision of extensive park and ride facilities and significantly expanded services in the Cork region.

The Minister said: "This decision heralds a new era of growth and the revitalisation of the railways. In recent years over euro1 billion has been invested in modernising our railway infrastructure with new track, signalling and engines and railcars. The foundation for a world-class railway system has been laid and on that we are now building improved, expanded and more customer friendly services. A century ago we had some 3,000 miles of railway track in this country and today that is down to just over 1,000 miles. I can assure you today that the decades of closures and the downgrading of lines and services can now be consigned to the past. The future of the railway is all about growth in customers and expansion of services."

The new rail commuter service will operate from Mallow through Cork City to Midleton and is designed to meet the long-term needs of the rapidly expanding East Cork Region, help to alleviate traffic congestion into and out of the city at peak times, and attract industrial and commercial developers.

Under the approved plans unveiled today by Minister Brennan:

  • A new and regular commuter service will be introduced between Cork City and Midleton, a distance of 20km, at an estimated cost of over euro56 million. It will involve the re-laying of 10km of new track, the building of three new stations, at Dunkettle, Carrigtwohill and Midleton, and the installing of a new signalling system between Cork and Midleton. It is proposed to run a train service every 15 minutes at peak times and the journey time is estimated at 25 minutes. Scheduled rail services between Cork and Midleton ceased in the early 1970s but the alignment has been preserved in its entirety.
  • A greatly enhanced commuter service will be opened along the 35km stretch from Mallow to Cork City on the main Dublin-Cork intercity line. New stations will be constructed at Blarney, where significant new residential development is planned, and at Kilbarry on the outskirts of the City, at an estimated cost of almost euro10 million. The rail journey between Mallow and Cork City is expected to take 25 minutes.
  • More than euro24 million will be invested in providing modern commuter railcars, the size of which can be adjusted to meet passenger demand at both peak and off peak periods. Passenger trips on the entire Cork suburban rail network, including the existing and expanding Cobh service, are projected at 3.8 million, or almost 16,000 per working day, in the first year of operation, doubling to 32,000 a day, by 2020.
  • Extensive Park and Ride facilities will be constructed at the new railway stations at Dunkettle (750 spaces), Blarney (200) Carrigtwohill (450) and Midleton (600).
  • Phase 2 of the development, estimated to cost an additional euro25 million, will involve construction of a further station on the Mallow-Cork stretch and the expansion of Park and Ride facilities. It is proposed that this phase of development will take place when demand grows to a point where additional capacity is needed in the system.

The Minister said that design work by Iarnrod Éireann was already underway on sections of the line and it was expected that passenger services would commence in 2007.

While detailed costings are expected shortly from Iarnród Éireann, Minister Brennan said the funding of the project, estimated at almost euro90 million at 2002 prices, will be met from the Department of Transports recently agreed five year multi annual budget of more than euro3.5 billion for public transport, a contribution from EU funds, the Special Contribution Schemes being put in place by both Cork City Council and County Council and private finance towards the cost of new stations. The contribution scheme in the County Council area alone is expected to generate significant funding for the project.

Minister Brennan said a comprehensive study of the project for Iarnród Eireann and CASP (Cork Area Strategic Plan) by international transport consultants Faber Maunsell estimates the revenue support required for the new services, over the first 6 years of operation, at euro5.5 million in total. It is estimated that no revenue support will be required after 2013 at the latest. Iarnrod Eireann will be expected to operate the service within its current subvention level.

Minister Brennan paid particular tribute to the influence of CASP, which was commissioned by Cork City Council and County Council in 2000, on the development of the strategies for the railways, park and ride facilities and the Green Route policy as part of an overall integrated transport system. One of the key themes of CASP calls for a re-direction of future development in the Cork area that can be served efficiently by public transport, especially rail. The report calls for planning for the physical environment (residential, commercial or industrial or other development) to be closely integrated with transport planning and more particularly with planning for high quality and high frequency public transport services.

The Minister said: "I understand that the main purpose in commissioning the CASP was to ensure that the needs of the planning area were identified, prioritised and addressed for the period up to 2020. I see the CASP as a model plan for the integration of land use and transportation strategies, an area on which Cork has been to the forefront. I have already said on a number of occasions that I view the CASP planning and implementation experience as a template that I would invite other local authorities to examine as they develop their own proposals."

The Faber Maunsell report concluded that the strategic transport modelling work undertaken as part of the CASP study indicated that investment in the rail network would provide good value for money in the context of the very significant increases in population and employment that are envisaged.

These include population growth to 2020 of:

  • Midleton (+ 162%)
  • Carrigtwohill (+340%)
  • Monard/Rathpeacon (+474%)
  • Mallow (81%)
  • Cobh (23%)

Employment in Cork City Centre is expected to grow by 34% to 2020.








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