Transport Department to invest €1 billion in rail network

Transport Department to invest €1 billion in rail network, buying new rail cars as more passengers use the rail network.

Ireland’s rail network will hopefully improve after the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport announced its five-year programme, based on which €1 billion will be invested in the rail infrastructure.

“The Exchequer funding that is committed over the next five years represents an almost 40% increase on the level of funding provided between 2014 and 2018,” Transport Minister Shane Ross said, as quoted in the press release.

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The money, provided through the Infrastructure Manager Multi-Annual Contract (IMMAC), will be used to help improve journey times and ensure the continued safety of rail services between 2020 and 2024. The funding will go into track relaying, safety-related initiatives and signalling improvements.

Enhancing the rail infrastructure

The Iarnród Éireann Infrastructure network currently extends to about 2,400 km of operational track, 4,440 bridges, 1,100 point ends, 970 level crossings, 144 stations, over 3,300 cuttings and embankments, 372 platforms and 13 tunnels.

“The very welcome agreement of the contract for 2020 to 2024 enables our infrastructure team to continue to maintain and enhance the safe provision of our physical network over this five-year period,” Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Jim Meade said.

The network includes main line, Dublin suburban, and commuter passenger routes, together with freight-only routes.

New rail cars

The IMMAC investment programme will not provide funding for other related rail projects such as the expansion of the Greater Dublin Area Commuter Rail Fleet or the DART Expansion Programme. These initiatives are funded through different schemes.

In late October, Minister Ross said the government approved the purchase of 41 rail carriages, so that more people living in the Greater Dublin Area could use the rail network. The new rail cars have been designated to enter service by 2021.

Mr Meade also said his department is continuing a tender which will allow the railway company to purchase up to 600 carriages within ten years, under Project Ireland 2040.

More passengers

With 41 carriages being on the way, the capacity of the rail network in the Greater Dublin Area is to increase by 34% at morning peak times across the Kildare Line, Maynooth Line and Northern Line.

Between 2015 and 2018, passenger numbers on the Greater Dublin Area rail network have gone up by 21 percent.

Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, said capacity has become a real issue, in particular on commuter services, over the years as the numbers of passengers using public transport in Ireland increased over the last six years.

“We are set to break the 50 million passenger journey barrier for the first time ever in 2019,” Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Meade concluded.

Peter Dlhopolec
Peter Dlhopolec

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