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Tram campaigners dispute findings of Transport Study

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Date Published: {J}

The company behind the new-generation tram proposal for Galway has disputed the findings of a year-long transport study, insisting its system would cost the exchequer nothing to set up and prompt a five-fold increase in public transport users who would never be persuaded out of their cars and onto buses.

The final report of the Public Transport Feasibility Study has come firmly down on the side of an upgraded bus network, effectively ruling out a tram system for the city as too expensive.

The report – which has taken a year to complete and was presented to Galway’s City Council’s special policy committee this week – found that a light rail transit (LRT) system would cost nearly €700m or 80% more to build than a bus rapid transit network (BRT), would take ten years to start and cause significant disruption to services during construction and beyond.

According to the consultants MVA, which carried out the study on behalf of the Galway City Council, it would cost €699m to set up a light rail system, as opposed to €115m to get a ‘bendy bus’ network off the ground, with a further €89m required to enhance the current bus system.

A proposal for a Light

Touch LRT – or the so called GLUAS proposal – which supporters have claimed would cost a maximum €250m to set up – was dismissed by the consultants as a “very high risk approach” to fixing our congestion woes.

The backers of GLUAS claim the new technology rail installations would involve less excavation of the road surface, going down just 300mm, which would result in less road disruption during installation. The trams would weigh just 22 tons, compared to over 30 tons that the more common trams weigh.

The system would involve renewable power generation facilities to supply power locally and any surplus would be sold back to the electricity grid. They point to a 40m critical section of the Sheffield Supertram, where 300 trams a day were using the same technology, which had operated without a hitch for 14 years.

However the MVA consultants were unimpressed.

“To date, the light touch LRT has not been widely tested or used and as such would represent a high risk strategy for addressing Galway City’s public transport deficiencies.” However they recommend further research into the system, which would require further funding.

Professor Lewis Lesley of Tram Power said the consultants had not carried out any in-depth examination of the GLUAS submission and had only examined the heavy-duty tram option.

He said these same consultants had recommended that a railway line be converted to a busway in Preston, which would have taken until 2028 to get up and running. Tram Power was now installing their system on this project.

“A more cynical person might ask the City Council if they appointed MVA to carry out the study because they wanted to sink the GLUAS option. Gift horse and mouth comes to mind – we are offering to set this up for free in the city, which we would pay for out of the fare box,” said Prof Lesley.

Their feasibility study found that they could get private investors and a loan to finance two lines running from Barna to Merlin Park over the Quincentenary Bridge, paying for a bridge to be built beside the Salmon Weir Bridge, with a second line to run from Dangan along Eglinton Street to Briarhill.

For more, read page 6 of this week’s City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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