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M20 and Rail alternatives for Limerick to Cork travel

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  • Mod: Please keep this thread as per the title - Limerick Cork rail vs the M20 construction.

    Motor tax and other such trips off topic are better placed in the Motor forums.

    Thank you.





  • Calfornia's problem is that the state's electrical infrastructure is in serious difficulty as it is, and an electrified rail line requires a stable, reliable supply of electricity. It's not like a factory that can cover up with on-site generation.

    But I can't believe anyone would hold up the SF Bay cities as an example of good public transport.
    SF itself has the basis of a good system, mostly built before 1980, but it's terribly underfunded, and the newly-landed tech companies running their own private buses that depress demand for the existing network exacerbates that problem. SJ started well in the late 1980s, but the centre of gravity of the Bay Area has moved away from it towards SF in the last two decades, and that makes it hard to support further expansion. As for the cities in between that make up the actual "Bay Area": forget it. They talk about how wonderful their cycling provision is because it only cost them a bit of paint and some studs on the road, while a bus service would have meant capital costs and ongoing staffing. Sometimes you can't even walk between towns, because the residential streets are all dead-ends and the only through route is an expressway with no pedestrian facility (ask me how I know). A population of well over 5 million people, but even Dublin has better public transportation.

    Back on the topic (as much as rail discussion is on topic in "Roads"...), electrification of the Limerick spur does make sense if the mainline is electrified. Capacity improvements are also needed if the Limerick city transport planners want to run a commuter service on that line while inter-city services continue on it too. The short length of the spur (it's just 35 km long) makes "high-speed" rail impractical: any city-to-city service would not be running at full speed that close to one of its endpoints anyway.

    While I personally think a new alignment would do more for rail use in general, I can see the appeal of upgrading the Limerick Junction to Colbert part of both the Dublin-Limerick and Cork-Limerick route using a budget for the Cork-Limerick transport corridor...




  • @cantalach I'm not sure if you were arguing in good faith, the obvious implication of 'Dualling and Electrifying the Limerick to LJ line' was that it would be tying in to the planned Cork Dublin electrification, nobody has ever suggested electrifying it in isolation.


    Fair enough. The word "electrification" occurs just once in the LSMATS public consultation document so there isn't a whole lot of suggestion or non-suggestion one way or the other. Electrification of that line in the context of an overall mainline electrification would make sense. Outside of that, it would just be a white elephant of no value.




  • cantalach wrote: »
    Fair enough. The word "electrification" occurs just once in the LSMATS public consultation document so there isn't a whole lot of suggestion or non-suggestion one way or the other. Electrification of that line in the context of an overall mainline electrification would make sense. Outside of that, it would just be a white elephant of no value.

    The value is that if LSMATS 'plans' for electrification of the Limerick to LJ route, and CMATS 'plans' for the electrification of the Cork - Dublin Line then you build a case for/lay the groundwork for 'Electrification of the Dublin to Cork and Limerick Lines'

    the general high speed rail thing might go out the window, who knows what NI will be doing after Brexit... but the Core of the idea, maybe Dundalk to Cork/Limerick being electrified and improved to take higher speeds needs to be looked at seriously by CIE/IÉ, because they currently have a supposed 2:1 spend on PT, they should be making use of it.




  • Between motor tax, VRT, VAT and carbon levy the Irish motorist is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe.

    While taxes from these sources aren’t obviously ring fenced for road spending, you’d obviously hope than even a basic standard of road would be maintained and developed including a motorway between the 2nd and 3rd city in the state.

    There seems to be an attitude in Ireland that motorists complaining about such issues is wrong and some people’s responses to motorists being taxed to the hilt is “So what?”

    I'm just not sure what the point is. Do you think that the building of the M20 will increase the tax take and therefore 'pay for it's self'? Obviously not, I'm not the one claiming infrastructure needs to pay for it's self, that was the implication of another poster.


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  • cantalach wrote: »
    It’s not at all obvious that would happen. You referred to some study into high-speed rail from Belfast to Cork. That may never happen. If the success of a Limerick to Junction electrification project is dependent on a separate and much larger project also happening, then it shouldn’t even be considered until that other project is in the bag. You can’t develop infrastructure based on hope.

    At the very least the Dub-Cork line will be electrified.

    cantalach wrote: »
    Well that’s the expectation, yes. The general idea with any major infrastructural project is that the economic benefit outweighs the cost. That’s why the term used is “investing” in infrastructure, i.e. there’s an expectation of getting something back.

    The economic benefit of electrifying intercity railways is massive. The saving in deisel alone is massive.




  • Apart from possibly the Dublin and Cork commuter networks, there wont be any rail electrification prior to the Cork - Limerick corridor project being realised. Any rail element of the project would have to be on the basis of diesel trains providing the service between the cities. There is a lot more to electrification than just* putting up cables along the line, there are rolling stock considerations as well, I cant see them buying electric trains to do a Cork - Limerick serve anytime soon.

    I think people are overstating the ambition to electrify Limerick to LJ, same for double track. It would be about 35km of electrification but very few stops/potential stops along there so number of trains using it would be low. You would need to encourage some pretty serious development along the line to justify a commuter level of service. It would probably make more sense to electrify the line to Nenagh as there is commuter potential there. If a Cork - Lim train is running nonstop at good speed LJ to Colbert, there is probably little benefit to be had from electrification.

    *I say just but that in itself is a huge job




  • cgcsb wrote: »
    I'm just not sure what the point is. Do you think that the building of the M20 will increase the tax take and therefore 'pay for it's self'? Obviously not, I'm not the one claiming infrastructure needs to pay for it's self, that was the implication of another poster.

    You seem to have a very narrow definition of something paying for itself. That’s based on what you said here and in a previous response to me when you talked about saving diesel. When talking about infrastructure bringing a nett economic benefit, this usually isn’t referring to the narrow monetary gains directly arising from the road/railway (increased revenue from fares, lower operating costs, road tolls, etc.). It’s usually referring to the bigger picture, i.e. the increased economic activity brought about by the improved infrastructure. It is in that wider sense that I think major transport infrastructure must bring an economic benefit.




  • cantalach wrote: »
    You seem to have a very narrow definition of something paying for itself. That’s based on what you said here and in a previous response to me when you talked about saving diesel. When talking about infrastructure bringing a nett economic benefit, this usually isn’t referring to the narrow monetary gains directly arising from the road/railway (increased revenue from fares, lower operating costs, road tolls, etc.). It’s usually referring to the bigger picture, i.e. the increased economic activity brought about by the improved infrastructure. It is in that wider sense that I think major transport infrastructure must bring an economic benefit.

    I'm aware of that. That's why it's rubbish to claim that rail improvements would not 'pay for themselves'




  • cgcsb wrote: »
    I'm aware of that. That's why it's rubbish to claim that rail improvements would not 'pay for themselves'

    Yes, it would be rubbish to claim that. Go back and read again my first post on electrification. I specifically questioned only the economic value of electrifying Limerick-Limerick Junction because I was under the impression it was being proposed in LSMATS as a stand-alone regional project outside the context of national mainline electrification. When this was clarified by another poster, I said “fair enough”. I’m not at all opposed to rail development. I’m done with this now, thanks.


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  • Pay for itself is a funny concept .. yes you need a cost benefit analysis,. But you also have to look at whats the desired result .. emmisions reductions ? Reduce Pressure on roads ? , development in an area?
    I doubt on purely financial terms it could be justified to electrify limerick to the junction .how many people take that route ,and how many train s a day ?
    I also doubt it'd financially viable to do cork - Dublin as a stand alone project .. 1 train an hour each way , it's not exactly at capacity ..
    But .. if the line is going to electrified to Kildare , and from maybe mallow , then maybe ..
    Although I reckon a bi-mode train of sorts will probably be used for cork -dublin , and doubt cork commuter will be electrified for a good while ,
    So that'd make any limerick service unlikely to be electrified also ...
    I'd rather a rail budget for limerick was spent on giving limerick a more usable urban rail system ,
    It always surprised me how much rail was around limerick , and yet you couldn't really go anywhere ,
    ( I think annacotty is the nearest stop to limerick but I'm open to correction ) , if you get places by rail in limerick itself , then the need for better rail Intercity connectivity would make it's self obvious ..




  • Markcheese wrote: »
    Pay for itself is a funny concept .. yes you need a cost benefit analysis,. But you also have to look at whats the desired result .. emmisions reductions ? Reduce Pressure on roads ? , development in an area?
    I doubt on purely financial terms it could be justified to electrify limerick to the junction .how many people take that route ,and how many train s a day ?
    I also doubt it'd financially viable to do cork - Dublin as a stand alone project .. 1 train an hour each way , it's not exactly at capacity ..
    But .. if the line is going to electrified to Kildare , and from maybe mallow , then maybe ..
    Although I reckon a bi-mode train of sorts will probably be used for cork -dublin , and doubt cork commuter will be electrified for a good while ,
    So that'd make any limerick service unlikely to be electrified also ...
    I'd rather a rail budget for limerick was spent on giving limerick a more usable urban rail system ,
    It always surprised me how much rail was around limerick , and yet you couldn't really go anywhere ,
    ( I think annacotty is the nearest stop to limerick but I'm open to correction ) , if you get places by rail in limerick itself , then the need for better rail Intercity connectivity would make it's self obvious ..

    I think the issue is the strange growth pattern of Limerick has essentially led to a lot of rail lines running past very little, while places miles from a line have population clusters, speaks of heavy growth in a car centric era, and kills opportunities for high enough density for rail stations.




  • I think the issue is the strange growth pattern of Limerick has essentially led to a lot of rail lines running past very little, while places miles from a line have population clusters, speaks of heavy growth in a car centric era, and kills opportunities for high enough density for rail stations.

    I think the development pattern of Limerick has a lot to do with the county and city boundaries.

    Successive governments have refused to allow Limerick City boundaries to expand into Co Limerick or County Clare, resulted in the strange pattern.

    Even the fact that there is still no motorway from Limerick to Cork attests to that strange attitude towards Limerick and Cork.




  • I think the development pattern of Limerick has a lot to do with the county and city boundaries.

    Successive governments have refused to allow Limerick City boundaries to expand into Co Limerick or County Clare, resulted in the strange pattern.

    I agree that was historically a factor. But Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council merged in 2014. There is now just Limerick Council. So while expansion into Clare is still problematic, there is no longer any boundary to be moved on the other three sides of the city.




  • is the title of this thread misleading? I don't think it's a case of one or the other, it's the M20 plus whatever rail improvements can be gained. Building the M20 could actually improve the position of rail improvements given the 2 to 1 funding stipulation




  • IE are progressing the removal of seven level crossings south of LJ already;

    https://www.irishrail.ie/en-ie/about-us/iarnrod-eireann-projects-and-investments/cork-line-level-crossings-project

    If that is done, it should give a decent journey time improvement. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets rolled into the rail option of this project. What I think should also be funded under this project would be a new approach from the Waterford line into LJ which eliminates the need to reverse and allows for easier change of train as per this post;

    https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=112686627&postcount=114

    There is probably not much to be gained from spending money between LJ and Colbert given the number of trains which use it.




  • Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    IE are progressing the removal of seven level crossings south of LJ already;

    https://www.irishrail.ie/en-ie/about-us/iarnrod-eireann-projects-and-investments/cork-line-level-crossings-project

    If that is done, it should give a decent journey time improvement. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets rolled into the rail option of this project. What I think should also be funded under this project would be a new approach from the Waterford line into LJ which eliminates the need to reverse and allows for easier change of train as per this post;

    https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=112686627&postcount=114

    There is probably not much to be gained from spending money between LJ and Colbert given the number of trains which use it.

    I think the intention of the rail option is to increase the number of trains going from Colbert to Cork and probably Dublin, plus connections to Cork/Dublin trains. Think more trains per hour rather that trains per day.




  • I think the intention of the rail option is to increase the number of trains going from Colbert to Cork and probably Dublin, plus connections to Cork/Dublin trains. Think more trains per hour rather that trains per day.

    Realistically, how many trains per hour are viable though? If you had an hourly direct train plus connections off the Dublin - Cork train in between you would probably have lots of spare capacity for the service to grow.




  • Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    Realistically, how many trains per hour are viable though? If you had an hourly direct train plus connections off the Dublin - Cork train in between you would probably have lots of spare capacity for the service to grow.

    Rolling stock is probably a limiting factor for a good number of years.

    Sorting LJ is the first part of the problem that needs sorting, and then removal of level crossings both on Colbert to LJ and LJ to Cork. The dual track of Colbert to LJ would be next.

    I think that a Luas project for both Cork and Limerick should also feature as related projects. Not much point in arriving at Colbert or Kent and - then what?




  • Rolling stock is probably a limiting factor for a good number of years.

    Sorting LJ is the first part of the problem that needs sorting, and then removal of level crossings both on Colbert to LJ and LJ to Cork. The dual track of Colbert to LJ would be next.

    I think that a Luas project for both Cork and Limerick should also feature as related projects. Not much point in arriving at Colbert or Kent and - then what?

    In the context of this project, sorting LJ coupled with the planned removal of level crossing to Cork should deliver regular and decent journey time services between Cork and Limerick. I don't think anything else is realistic under this project. Both cities have separate internal transport plans


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  • Rolling stock is probably a limiting factor for a good number of years.

    Sorting LJ is the first part of the problem that needs sorting, and then removal of level crossings both on Colbert to LJ and LJ to Cork. The dual track of Colbert to LJ would be next.

    I think that a Luas project for both Cork and Limerick should also feature as related projects. Not much point in arriving at Colbert or Kent and - then what?

    Unfortunately the LSMATS is very short sited and doesn't propose any light rail or commuter rail service, even though the strategy is up until 2040. Bus Connects will improve public transport within Limerick but it'll only be buses.




  • cgcsb wrote: »
    Unfortunately the LSMATS is very short sited and doesn't propose any light rail or commuter rail service, even though the strategy is up until 2040. Bus Connects will improve public transport within Limerick but it'll only be buses.

    Short sighted is par for the course when it comes to planning for infrastructure, particularly PT and in Rail particular.

    I would have thought a Minister for Transport, a member of the Green Party, would be all over this.




  • Limerick needs to be way more densely populated before any light rail could be considered. Even by 2040 I can't see that being the case. The suburban sprawl will still be there. There are plenty of planning applications and permissions in for it to be extended even further all around the city. The council really don't help themselves.

    Even the current rail lines don't really work for commuter rail as they are mostly nowhere near where the need to be. There's nothing at all in Castletroy and the Ennis line touches the outskirts of Moyross before meandering out into the countryside again before turning back into the city.




  • Limerick needs to be way more densely populated before any light rail could be considered. Even by 2040 I can't see that being the case. The suburban sprawl will still be there. There are plenty of planning applications and permissions in for it to be extended even further all around the city. The council really don't help themselves.

    Even the current rail lines don't really work for commuter rail as they are mostly nowhere near where the need to be. There's nothing at all in Castletroy and the Ennis line touches the outskirts of Moyross before meandering out into the countryside again before turning back into the city.

    our national policy (Ireland 2040) is weighted towards increasing density and improving transport, but our (Limerick) local policy is aimed towards promoting sprawl (LNDR & Mungret housing development by LCC). Any housing application for medium density developments is immediately challenged by locals citing traffic concerns. We need a dramatic shift in local policy to address this.

    Micro-mobility will increase the footprint of transport systems equip to support it (rail/light rail). There are 3 local road projects, that if we were following the national policy, would not be needed - the NDR, Mungret distributer road and Bloodmill road upgrades. Had LCCC had any vision, the money spent/being sought for these projects could well have payed for light rail from a park and ride M7 city east to another park and ride off the M20 city west. This would support the majority of the urban population, commuters, students, shopping and business districts. Such a system would fit in well with the suggested 10,000 person community just off the grounds of Limerick train station and a suggested improved interurban rail plan.

    instead we are faced with the prospect of piecemeal bus improvements. At this rate, by 2040 LCCC will be arguing for additional traffic lanes on the M7 and N18.




  • Limerick needs to be way more densely populated before any light rail could be considered. Even by 2040 I can't see that being the case. The suburban sprawl will still be there. There are plenty of planning applications and permissions in for it to be extended even further all around the city. The council really don't help themselves.

    Even the current rail lines don't really work for commuter rail as they are mostly nowhere near where the need to be. There's nothing at all in Castletroy and the Ennis line touches the outskirts of Moyross before meandering out into the countryside again before turning back into the city.

    It's a 2040 strategy, that's 20 years from now. A different world, policy is that the centres of the regional cities will grow exponentially in that time, fossil fuel cars will not be for sale, likely car ownership in general will be more expensive and car sharing schemes more common. Last year more apartments than houses got planning permission for the first time in the state. Things are changing.




  • Could the title of this thread be changed? It's not a question of road v rail, it's adding a direct rail corridor in conjunction with the direct motorway.

    Mod: I have changed it so the M20 is not shown as either/or but and so the rail option can be seen as an extra rather than replacing the M20.

    We know the M20 has to go ahead even if the Minister is not sure.





  • cgcsb wrote: »
    It's a 2040 strategy, that's 20 years from now. A different world, policy is that the centres of the regional cities will grow exponentially in that time, fossil fuel cars will not be for sale, likely car ownership in general will be more expensive and car sharing schemes more common. Last year more apartments than houses got planning permission for the first time in the state. Things are changing.

    Strategy. I love that word. How much of the early 2000s National Spatial Strategy has made it into the real world today? We're still waiting for the the vast majority of it.

    I live in the real world and I'm very confident that Limerick and the other regional cities will (unfortunately) still be sprawled in 20 years time.

    All the apartment building permissions are in Dublin. And how many are actually getting built? Other than student accommodation there are very few apartment developments outside of Dublin.

    People will also still very much be driving cars. A large percentage of them will be electric, but ICE cars will be available for another decade, so will be on the roads for another 20 years.




  • Pete_Cavan wrote: »
    In the context of this project, sorting LJ coupled with the planned removal of level crossing to Cork should deliver regular and decent journey time services between Cork and Limerick. I don't think anything else is realistic under this project. Both cities have separate internal transport plans



    By "decent", what are we talking about?




  • rebs23 wrote: »
    Could the title of this thread be changed? It's not a question of road v rail, it's adding a direct rail corridor in conjunction with the direct motorway.

    But in reality that's the choice. Any chance of viability of a rail option depends on the stopping of the M20. It is unlikely that any government would allocate funds for both projects. The actual provision of either a substantial upgrade to existing line or the provision of a new line from Limerick to Rathluirc( Gaelic name of Charlesville) is only part of the cost. For these line to even have a chance of drawing commuters (and this is highly questionable) new large scale urbann rail projects would need to be put in place for Limerick and Cork. You would have to add in the cost of rolling stock for these projects. The total costs of these projects would exceed the cost of the M20.

    When you consider that such a project would have to compete with urban rail projects in Dublin it hard to see it getting priority funding. The M20 is a priority project. It is critical to the development of a counter hub to Dublin which sucks in economic activity.

    The big question of any rail project is will it attract commuters in such numbers to sustain a level of service that will ensure it a viable alternative to people using there cars. At present considering the amount invested in it only 2%of commuters use rail as an option and that includes the large urban rail projects in Dublin. 20%use bus. Nearly as many people travel to work on bikes as by rail in Ireland.

    https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-cp6ci/p6cii/p6mtw/

    With the limitations on funds and the fact that there will always be choices to be made it makes more sense to consider what there pact if spend differently. Most journeys on the N20 originate and terminate on it or adjacent to it. The actual through traffic is not what is need to be catered for. Even a person living in Blarney or Patrickwell will not travel into the city center to catch a train to the other city center even for the purpose of lifestyle shopping.

    Rail needs peak volumes of commuters to assure peak and off peak services. Peak services need to be 4-5 times per hours services to attract customers. Customers then need to be dropped within 500meters of there workplace. Without a huge spend on Urban rail in Cork and Limerick would this be possible. But the sting in the tail is if constructed would it be viable to provide the services to attract commuters from there cars.

    With the advent of WFH it is quite likely peak volumes will reduce this in itself causes a problem as commuters would require a more flexible service if only going into an office for 4-6 hours a couple of days a week. Commuters have shown themselves to be more time sensitive than price sensitive.

    Therefore if along with the cost of the M20 we have 4-500million+ to spend is spending on cycle paths or bus services a much better choice than big spend fantasy rail projects


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  • But in reality that's the choice. Any chance of viability of a rail option depends on the stopping of the M20.

    That's not the choice, there is a wide spectrum of options in between M20 + major rail investment and M20 + zero rail investment (there are obviously other options not including the M20 but they are unlikely). I think the most likely outcome is M20 + modest rail investment, say around €10m. With level crossing already planned for removal, I think the most benefits would come from upgrades to LJ.


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