LIMERICK City and County Council has been urged to champion a proposal for a light rail network for the city.
Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan believes there is a once in a generation opportunity to build a modern transport network that will be lost if the council does not act, with serious consequences for future investment for the city.
“We badly need to see a such a network planned, costed and implemented. Without a 21st century 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,” he warned.
“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. On the Clare side, we could develop local rail stations for Corbally, Moyross and Shannon Airport.
“We have a unique coalition of business, political and community groups who have all spoken of the need to develop a Luas-style rail network for our 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.”
The Castleconnell-based politician insists that the lack of ambition from the political establishment is palpable.
“Significantly, there appears no prospect of capital funding from government to even cost the project. 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 ten years time, by which stage we will be light years behind in European terms.
“Right now we need to up the political stakes. Every political party should be asked to commit to the project. Local authority management need to end their silence on this issue and demand a government commitment to invest in such a project. The existing Limerick 2030 plan isn’t fully realisable without investment in a light rail project anyway.
“The capital cost will be significant but well justified because of the long-term benefits of having a working city with a modern transport system, as a counter-balance to Dublin. All that is lacking is the political will to make it happen,” he concluded.
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