Thursday, 19 January 2023
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
57. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the announced expansion of the Irish Rail fleet, which he announced on 29 November 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1569/23]
As the Deputy may be aware, the Government approved a ten-year fleet framework agreement between Iarnród Éireann and Alstom in December 2021. This allows for the purchase of up to 750 electric and battery-electric train carriages over the contract period. This contract allows for the purchase of fleet for both the DART+ Programme and other areas of the rail network too.
Alongside this approval of the framework agreement, the Government also approved an initial purchase of 30 electric carriages and 65 battery-electric carriages. These carriages are expected to enter into service in 2025 on the Northern Line and on the existing DART network. Deploying some of this new fleet on the Northern Line should allow for some of the current fleet operating on that line to be cascaded elsewhere on the network, creating additional capacity across the system.
Last November the Government approved the purchase of a further 90 battery-electric carriages under this framework. I anticipate that these 90 carriages will be delivered in 2026. The carriages will facilitate the expansion of DART+ services to Drogheda to the north, Maynooth/M3 Parkway to the west and Celbridge/Hazelhatch to the south-west.
As these carriages can operate in electric-only mode using overhead electric wires or through the use of batteries, there is also potential to use them at some stage in the future between Greystones and Wicklow and/or for the Cork Metropolitan Area, serving communities between Mallow, Cork, Cobh and Midleton, subject to available funding for necessary supporting infrastructure.
The rail fleet is also due to be expanded later this year with the final delivery of 41 new Intercity railcars. The precise deployment of these new units is still being considered by Iarnród Éireann and will reflect emerging travelling trends post-COVID-19. Routes that could see capacity increases as a result of the new railcars include the connections between Dublin Heuston and Cork, Galway, Limerick, Portlaoise, Tralee and Westport, and between Grand Canal Dock and Hazelhatch/Newbridge. Once service options have been defined for the new rail units, there may also be the possibility to cascade fleet to other lines.