Strategy up to 2030 presented at rail seminar
Airport link to national network recommended
A major report into the future strategy for the national rail network has recommended that improvements in speeds and capacity on Intercity lines be prioritised.
The AECOM/Goodbody Strategic Rail Investments Needs Review is being presented at Rail Vision 2030, a seminar on the future of rail transport in Ireland in Dublin today (Wednesday 22nd February).
The report, commissioned by Iarnród Éireann, also envisages longer-term electrification of key sections of the network on sustainability grounds, and calls for connections for Dublin Airport to be progressed – initially via a major M50 Park and Ride station, with a spur from the existing DART line to the Airport to follow. While focused on the national network, the report also endorsed key elements of the Dublin rail strategy, including DART Underground, and the extension of the DART network to Commuter lines in the Greater Dublin area.
The key findings of the report include:
- The national Intercity and commuter network has a key role to play in promoting economic development
- The need to ensure that the maintenance and renewal of the infrastructure on an ongoing basis is safeguarded, to avoid the asset being ‘run down’ over time
- Investment in track to give journey time improvements of up to 30 minutes on key Intercity routes, including Dublin to Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Galway, Mayo and Waterford, resulting in journey times of 2 hours from Dublin/Cork; 1 hour 45 minutes Dublin/Galway, and under 2 hours for other major cities
- Increases in service frequency on selected routes, with additional capacity through double-tracking the line from Portarlington to Athlone
- Development of a Dublin (M50) Parkway Station on the route into Heuston, allowing customers to the west and south of the city to connect to Intercity rail services, and providing an Airport to Dublin Parkway bus shuttle
- Subsequent development of Airport rail link from Clongriffin to Dublin Airport, to link the national rail network to the country’s gateway airport, in line with European Union strategic goals
- Longer-term, electrification of key routes including Dublin-Cork and Dublin-Galway, enabling Galway and Cork to Dublin Airport rail services via Dublin city and DART Underground
- A number of potential new regional rail lines are evaluated, with only Athenry to Tuam currently envisaged a candidate for further consideration
- Rail freight to continue to operate on a commercial basis, with an Exchequer grant aid facility to enterprises and Iarnród Éireann to support new freight projects with a clear economic return, supported by cost-benefit analysis
- Restructuring and simplification of Intercity fare structures (this process has been commenced in this month’s Intercity fare review, approved by the National Transport Authority
Reviewing the report, Dick Fearn stated “It is clear from the outcome of the report that rail must remain a core element of our national transport strategy, and can continue to develop its role. The report highlights the importance of ensuring that, even in the current environment, normal maintenance and renewal of infrastructure must take place, and to that end we welcome the confirmation that this is being maintained within the reduced Exchequer capital programme.
The AECOM/Goodbody report charts a course to ensure that rail can play a strong and economically sustainable role in meeting the transport needs of our communities into the future. It sets priorities and challenges for all stakeholders involved in or with an interest in delivering transport solutions in Ireland, and we look forward to working with stakeholders to chart a vision for our future network.”