Irish Rail eager to expand national network, chief says

ireland
Irish Rail could rebuild the railway from Dublin to Navan in just three years. Photo: PA
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Irish Rail is eager to expand and improve the national rail network and has put forward a number of detailed proposals to a variety of State agencies, chief executive of the company Jim Meade has said.

The Irish Times reports that Mr Meade said the company could rebuild the railway from Dublin to Navan in just three years.

Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Transport on Tuesday, he said it had put forward proposals to open a number of stations between Ennis and Limerick, as well as the Limerick to Foynes line, and wanted to increase frequency to 15-minute commuter trains on the Cork to Midleton line.

These were in addition to Dublin-centric projects such as electrifying commuter rail in capital, he said.

Mr Meade told the committee that Irish Rail had “highlighted further opportunities to develop the role of rail” as part of its engagement with the Department of Transport.

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These included:

  • Dart’s €2.6bn extension plan beyond Dublin unveiled after 15 years.
  • Plans to extend Luas to Finglas “to bring 30,000 within 1km” of Green line
  • Advancing plans for Cork Commuter Rail – including higher frequency and new stations – under the Cork metropolitan area transportation strategy.
  • Advancing plans for new stations on the Ennis-Limerick line as part of the Limerick-Shannon metropolitan area strategy.
  • Double-tracking the Athenry to Galway line.
  • Delivering the relocated Plunkett Station to serve Waterford.
  • Building “climate resilience” with specific focus on coastal protection for the Dublin to Rosslare line.
  • The development of proposals for further electrification of the network.

In a question-and-answer session Mr Meade said Irish Rail would be “happy” to engage in a two-phased reopening of the Athenry to Tuam and Tuam to Claremorris line, if that was to be the recommendation of an ongoing all-island strategic review of the rail network.

Mr Meade told Senator Timmy Dooley the possibility was there to have a railway “horseshoe” around Limerick on lines that were already in place, utilising new stations.

However Mr Meade said opening a rail link to Shannon Airport would involve land acquisition and could cost hundreds of millions of euro.

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