Iarnród Éireann – Irish Rail has announced the start of a process to procure up to 600 electric / battery-electric powered carriages over a 10-year timescale.
Supported by the National Transport Authority (NTA), Iarnród Éireann, is seeking expressions of interest from global train manufacturers for the largest and greenest fleet in Irish public transport history.
The already-announced DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) Expansion, a €2 billion investment under Project Ireland 2040, will see the capacity of the rail network transformed through investment in up to 300 new carriages, electrification of lines to Maynooth, M3 Parkway, Hazelhatch and Drogheda, and key infrastructure works to allow more trains to operate in the Greater Dublin Area.#
However, this ambitious tender for up to 600 carriages allows for the planned fleet expansion, replacement of the original DART fleet (the 76-carriage fleet will be almost 45 years old at the end of the current National Development Plan in 2027) and other carriages, and ensure that the framework is in place for more carriages to be ordered if further growth in demand occurs.
DART is currently Irish Rail’s only electrified network. While electrically powered trains are expected to make up the vast majority of train orders, the tender process also provides for a possible first tranche of battery-electric hybrid trains. This will ensure that, should funding or planning processes see the electrification of the first of the lines be completed beyond 2024, new trains will be available from that date to meet the surging demand from commuters.
However, the new procurement process will see the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) total rail fleet, and up to 80 per cent of all heavy rail journeys in Ireland, set for a potentially emissions-free future. It will also generate reductions in noise and cost savings in train operations.
As well as this major order, Iarnród Éireann and the NTA are progressing shorter-term options to meet record demand on Ireland’s railways. With 47.9 million journeys in 2018, and capacity requirements becoming acute at peak times, these include:
- Negotiations currently underway between Iarnród Éireann and its supplier, seeking to agree an order for at least 41 extra Intercity railcar carriages, adding to an existing fleet of 234 vehicles, to enter service from late 2021;
- The current tender process by the NTA for the possible purchase or lease of pre-owned trains, which also would involve modifications to fleet, particularly as Ireland’s track gauge differs from that of other railways.
Iarnród Eireann chief executive Jim Meade said: “The commencement of the tender process for our new fleet is the first major step in the DART expansion project, which will revolutionise public transport in the greater Dublin area, providing an even more frequent and environmentally sustainable commuting option for new and existing communities.
“It will also provide greater capacity for Intercity and regional commuter services as carriages currently utilised in the greater Dublin area will become available for other services.”