High-speed trains debut on Cork-Dublin line

High-speed trains are running every hour from Cork to Dublin for the first time today.

The two-way weekday services between Ireland's largest cities will operate between 7am and 9pm as part of Irish Rail's new timetable.

The rail firm boasts a record number of new routes due to increased investment in locomotives and recent track upgrades.

The fastest journey on the Dublin-Cork route, a distance of 160 miles, will now take two hours and 25 minutes.

Frequency will also be increased on most services as part of the new timetables.

Irish Rail claims to be the EU's fastest growing railway with more than 43 million passenger journeys in 2006 - a 14% increase on 2005.

There are new Sunday services on the Kildare commuter line, a new Ballina-Castlebar-Westport service, and additional trains for Gorey and Dundalk.

Irish Rail's new fleet of sleek Spanish-made trains will operate on the Dublin-Cork route.

The CAF locomotives have a maximum speed of 160kph (just less than 100mph) and can seat 423 passengers.

The trains comprise five standard-class carriages and one first-class carriage as well as a cafe-style dining car.

CAF already supplies trains to rail companies in Britain, Spain, Finland, and to the Hong Kong subway.

CAF, which has its headquarters near San Sebastian in the Basque region, has four manufacturing plants in Spain and assembly and maintenance facilities in the US and South America.

Irish Rail's record investment programme was funded by the Government under Transport 21 and the European Union.

Services will depart Cork's Kent station at 5.15am and then every hour at half past the hour from 6.30am to 8.30pm.

Sunday services will also see increased frequency on the Cork-Dublin route.

The trains have in-carriage visual information displays and automated announcements. Route maps at carriage ends show the train's progress on its journey.

Passengers who book tickets online will have their seats reserved on electronic displays.

A spokesman said: "Citygold first class customers on the new fleet will have added features of adjustable seating, in-seat audio entertainment and powerpoints for laptops, recharging PDAs, MP3 players or mobile phones."

A dedicated wheelchair space is provided in each carriage and wheelchair accessible toilets are also provided.

Trains are also equipped with CCTV cameras throughout.

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