Investment in New Trains
Iarnród Éireann is progressing two major fleet orders, to cater for growing demand, and for the expansion in rail services planned under the National Development Plan 2018-2027, part of Project Ireland 2040. These projects are:
41 new railcar carriages
In October 2019, the Government approved an order for 41 new railcar carriages. These will be additional 22000-class railcar carriages bringing the overall size of this fleet to 275 carriages.
This represents an investment of €150 million, and the new carriages will enter service in the Greater Dublin Area from late 2021, providing an overall increase in peak Commuter capacity of 34% on routes where they will be deployed. These carriages will benefit:
- Northern Commuter services (Drogheda/Dundalk to Dublin)
- Western Commuter services (Maynooth/M3 Parkway to Dublin)
- South-Western Commuter services (Heuston Commuter and Intercity services, and Newbridge/Hazelhatch to Grand Canal Dock)
Up to 600 electric / battery-electric hybrid carriages
Iarnród Éireann, supported by the NTA, commenced the tender process to order the largest and greenest fleet in Irish public transport history in May 2019 for up to 600 electric / battery-electric powered carriages over a 10-year timescale.
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. It will double the capacity of the DART and Greater Dublin Area commuter network by 2027.
However, the ambitious tender for up to 600 carriages allows for this planned fleet expansion, and also ensures that the framework is in place for more carriages to be ordered if further growth in demand occurs, and to ultimately replace the original DART fleet (76-carriage fleet in service since 1984). The preferred supplier is expected to be selected in mid-2020, with the first carriages under the framework entering service in 2024.
As well as increasing Dublin area capacity, it will also see Intercity carriages currently in use on Commuter services allocated to Intercity routes, to increase capacity and frequency of services.
While electricity-powered trains are expected to make up the overwhelming majority of train orders, the tender process is also providing for a possible first tranche of battery-electric hybrid trains.
This is to ensure that, should funding provision or planning processes see the electrification of the first of the lines be completed beyond 2024, that new trains will be available from that date to meet the surging demand from commuters.
Ultimately, the overall order will see the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) total rail fleet, and up to 80% of all heavy rail journeys in Ireland, set for a potentially emissions-free future, as well as generating reductions in noise, and cost savings in train operations.