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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Blackpool Retail Park And Light Rail Plans

John Woodman

A Billion plus Euro scheme to create a light rail system in Cork is now under detailed study with three routes planned. One of these will extend from Cork's city centre to the important business and retail district of Blackpool where there will be two station stops. Presently Cork is wholly reliant on urban bus services as well as long distance routes. The Irish national rail network links Cork with Dublin and also provides a service south from Cork's Kent Station to the port town of Cogh (from which the Titanic sailed on its final stop before its tragic collision and sinking in the north Atlantic).

Cork had a first generation electric tramway operating until the early 1930s with a fleet of open top single truck double deck cars, all of which remained in their as delivered condition until final closure. The city's aspirations for light rail have been underpinned by the success of the Dublin LUAS system which continues to expand. It is noteworthy to see that planners have ensured that both education and healthcare hubs will be served by new light rail services, as indeed is Cork's principal railway station (which I used a few years ago). The station was named after the Kent family who were prominent in Ireland's war of Indepence. Thomas Kent was arrested by British forces and executed by firing squad in the local prison - hence the station's official name in his memory.

The impressive studies undertaken for this second light rail network in the Republic of Ireland are worthy of attention here on the Fylde coast. Continuing need for an integrated light rail system covering similar socio-economic hot buttons is clearly in evidence - but bedevilled by the fragmented local government structure and political divide which has for too long held back coordinated transport and urban infrastructure -ever since Lytham St Annes council worthies spurned the generous and logical proposals by Walter Luff in the mid 1930s. These would have involved the Fylde coast's tramway extending from Fleetwood as far as St Annes Square.

Ireland it seems is streets ahead in realising tangible goals for coordinated transport involving modern rail technology with the centre of Blackpool benefitting from the comprehensive plan for Cork (available online). Until the Fylde's local government and parochial setup is dismantled in favour of a Fylde-wide structure - this Blackpool (and its neighbours) will continue to fall further behind dealing with changes being brought about in this century, Environmental challenges being just one.


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