A Light Rail System for Galway

Local and National Policymakers, Railway Procurement Agency, Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail)

Luas, Dublin - Courtesy: Jim McDougall (Flickr)
Luas, Dublin – Courtesy: Jim McDougall (Flickr)

A LUAS-type light rail system for the greater Galway area could provide a very attractive alternative to the car. Light rail has emerged in recent years as a very popular addition to public transportation systems worldwide. New light rail systems have been recently implemented across Europe in Strasbourg, Stockholm and Manchester. LUAS in Dublin has been a remarkable success. There are currently two separate proposals for a light rail system in Galway: GLUAS and SUIG.

The case for such a system is strong:
– As such a system would have dedicated tram paths and be almost completely independent of the road traffic and be given priority at road junctions, it would offer a reliable service with minimum travel times.
Commuters from the main road thoroughfares into the city could be accommodated by lines that run from Bearna, Moycullen, Ballybrit and Oranmore into the city.
– Both design proposals connect the main residential areas with the city centre and with the main industrial estates in the east of the city.
– With long carriages and greater frequency during busy periods, a tram system would have a high capacity to cope with large passenger numbers when it is most needed.
– Trams are more accessible to people with physical disabilities. Trams operate at kerb level so boarding trams is easier for wheelchair users.
– There is a high degree of passenger comfort on a light rail system. With spacious carriages and excellent suspension, trams offer a very smooth ride.
Land values near stations and along the lines would increase.
– There would be increased footfall for businesses near tram stations.
– Rundown areas near stations can be regenerated with new commercial and residential development.
– Districts that undergo urban regeneration close to stations can be developed at higher densities so more people can live nearby and use the service to get around.
Park and ride facilities can be installed near stations especially at the edge of the city.
– The lines and stations would be located so as to maximise integration with the bus and train services so as to allow passengers greater flexibility and choice.
– Such a system would be a great asset for tourists visiting the city.
– A light rail system would be viable in a small city such as Galway. There are light rail systems in at least 14 European cities smaller in size than Galway including: Halberstadt, Germany (population 40,526), Valenciennes, France (pop. 41,278); Brandenburg, Germany (pop. 71,778).
– Trams are more environmentally friendly as they are powered by electricity, which could come from local renewable sources such as wind making it even greener.

SUIG (Solas Uirbeach Iarnród na Gaillimhe)

GLUAS, Light Rail for Galway

LUAS, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Railway Procurement Agency, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8