Weighty case for a light rail system for Limerick

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Weighty case for a light rail system for Limerick

Senator Paul Gavan suggested the existing old rail network could link up with the Ballybrophy line, which runs through Castleconnell

A LIMERICK senator has called on the council to champion a proposal for a light rail network in the city.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to build a modern 21st century transport network that will be lost if the council does not act, with serious consequences for future investment for the city,” said Senator Paul Gavan.

He said a light rail network “badly needs to be planned, costed and implemented.”

“Without a modern public rail system we will never reach our city's potential in terms of inward investment, and our road network will grind to a halt. The city is tailor made for a light rail network.

“We could utilise much of the existing old rail network that runs through Raheen, and also link through to the Ballybrophy line incorporating a new station giving access to the University of Limerick. On the Clare side we could develop local rail stations for Corbally, Moyross and Shannon Airport," said the Castleconnell-based senator.

In June, Cllr Bill O’Donnell said at a municipal district meeting that he was very impressed by the transport system in Nantes which he said is “so, so like Limerick”. 

“They have – and I think it’s something that could be done in Limerick – a Luas, for want of a better word. They have a red line going from north to south and a blue line going from east to west – you could never get lost. It works very well in Nantes. The whole city is made very simple,” said Cllr O’Donnell.

Senator Gavan said there is a unique coalition of business, political and community groups who have all spoken of the need to develop a Luas style rail network in the city.

“The IDA, and Chamber of Commerce back the idea, as do Sinn Fein and a number of other progressive political groups. And yet despite years of speculation it remains just an idea.

“Significantly, there appears no prospect of capital funding from government to even cost the project. The lack of ambition from the political establishment with regard to this issue is palpable. They are not prepared to pay anything  more than lip service to it.

“Once again Limerick is expected to be the poor relation. Unless there is a change in political representation in this city, we will still be talking about a project like this in another 10 years time, by which stage we will be light years behind in European terms,” said Senator Gavan.

“The existing Limerick 2030 plan isn't fully realisable without such investment in a light rail project anyway,” he concluded.