Construction on reopening of Limerick to Foynes Rail Line for Freight Services to begin
14 November 2022
Rails delivered to Shannon Foynes port to commence civil works
Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann, Jim Meade was joined by Chief Executive of Shannon Foynes Port Company, Pat Keating at the port today to witness the unloading of rail destined for the first phase of works to reopen the Foynes to Limerick Rail line.
Construction is set to commence in the coming weeks on phase one of the project, which is funded by the Department of Transport. The 42km stretch of railway between Limerick and Foynes originally opened in 1858 but closed to passenger traffic in 1963. Freight services continued until 2001. When these services stopped the line was declared inactive, but the line remained under the stewardship of Iarnród Éireann.
Phase one of this project involves the following works:
- Vegetation clearance and removal of existing track.
- Replacement of track formation and installation of a new ballast bed to current Iarnród Éireann standards.
- Rehabilitation and / or renewal of bridges and culverts.
- Supply and installation of new rail and concrete sleepers along the entire route.
- Renewal of road infrastructure at public road level crossings.
- Renewal of accommodation crossings.
- Renewal of lineside fencing.
- Installation of infrastructure to accommodate the next phase of the project.
It is anticipated that these works will take in the region of two years to complete, and vegetation clearance is already underway.
Phase two of the project will include; provision of a signalling system for the route, CCTV level crossings, train communications system and track connections and upgrades at Limerick and in Foynes Yard. Subject to funding allocation for phase 2 it is expected that this work will take 18 months to complete and it is anticipated that the route will open for freight services in 2025.
The current phase of work that is about to begin and the subsequent phases will facilitate rail freight services, but will not preclude the possibility of passenger services being reintroduced on this line in the future, but this would require further infrastructure upgrades and funding.
Iarnród Éireann wishes to acknowledge the co-operation and support of Shannon Foynes Port Company and Limerick City and County Council in bringing the project to the construction stage. The company looks forward to engaging with communities and all stakeholders along the route during this phase of construction.
The project aligns with and supports Iarnród Éireann’s Rail Freight 2040 Strategy, and the recently launched strategic review of the Shannon Foynes Port Company Masterplan, Vision 2041. The reopening of the Limerick to Foynes rail line for freight services also satisfies several EU, national, regional, and local development objectives. The proposed project contributes to objectives of common interest with the EU as defined in Article 7 of the TEN-T guideline, with the following specific contributions:
- Interconnection of the modes of transport rail and ship services, promoting intermodal transport.
- Promotion of environmental protection by strengthening freight transport via rail and sea rather than road transport.
- Extension of interconnections.
Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann, Jim Meade said: Seeing the work commence on reopening of the Limerick to Foynes rail line is a proud day for us at Iarnród Éireann. Our Rail Freight Strategy is all about creating connections and giving greater opportunity for businesses to switch from road freight to more sustainable rail freight. I am certain that upon reopening of the line, working with our colleagues at the Shannon Foynes Port Company we will deliver a reliable, frequent and most importantly sustainable logistics option for many companies that currently and in the future will use the port of Foynes.”
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