Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen TD, together with CIÉ Chairman, Dr John Lynch, today (Tuesday 6 March 2007) welcomed the arrival into Dublin Port of the first of the 183 new state-of-the-art railcars on order from Mitsui/Rotem/Tokyu Car Corporation to service the Irish Intercity rail network. The order, valued at €400 million and funded by the Irish Government, under Transport 21, will see an improvement in Iarnród Éireann's on-board comfort standards and a higher frequency and capacity on all Intercity routes. The first set of 12 railcars, which arrived today by ship from Korea will be used to replace the existing fleet on the Dublin Sligo route. This route facilitates stops in Maynooth, Kilcock, Enfield, Mullingar, Edgeworthtown, Longford, Dromod, Carrick on Shannon, Boyle, Ballymote, Collooney and Sligo.
The 183 railcars comprise of 150 (costing €322 million), which will service the Intercity routes - Sligo/Dublin, Rosslare/Dublin, Waterford/Dublin, Westport/Dublin, Tralee/Dublin, Tralee/Cork, Galway/Dublin and Limerick/Dublin and an additional 33 new railcars (costing €78 million), approved last week, by Minister Cullen. These will service the commuter routes of Portlaoise, Carlow and Athlone. The entire fleet of 183 railcars will be delivered and phased into service throughout 2007 and 2008.
Speaking today, Minister Cullen said: "The 183 new railcars represent a key milestone in the revitalisation of the railway service. They are part of a sustained programme of Government investment in upgrading railway services, which has been underway since 1999. The first 150 railcars will replace the older stock on all our Intercity routes. The entire Intercity fleet will be updated by the end of 2008. I also announced, just last week, that a further 33 railcars will be purchased for use on the outer-commuter belt serving the growing towns of Portlaoise, Carlow and Athlone. Comfort and frequency are set to improve on these routes, courtesy of the new carriage fleet. In order to get people to leave their cars at home and use public transport, we have to offer the best facilities and people deserve the best possible services".
The new fleet was ordered from Mitsui of Japan, in partnership with Rotem of the Republic of Korea and Tokyu Car Corporation. Fleet features include: automatic PA and information display systems; full air-conditioning; internal CCTV system for improved security; modern catering facilities; individual base seating; improved carriage design and advanced safety features.
The new railcars are an eco-friendly fleet, which will meet new EU Nitrous Oxide emission limits for rail vehicles, (which will not be enforced until 2012); and soot particle limits, (not enforced until 2009).
Other elements of the railway upgrade programme in recent years, include:
The Government's Railway Safety Programme - a total of €960m has been invested since 1999, which has led to the renewal of 420 miles of track and the closure or upgrading of 828 level crossings.
The introduction of 67 new carriages on the Cork-Dublin route, which has enabled the introduction of hourly services.
The upgrade of the DART service has seen an increase of capacity at peak hours from 14,000 in 2000 to 27,000 passengers today.
The redevelopment of Heuston Station, Dublin which involved the complete redesign of the station, increasing platform numbers and re-tracking and re-signalling the approaches to the station allowing for greater flexibility.
The Maynooth/Dublin line upgrade which has doubled the capacity of the line.
Minister Cullen concluded: "Between 1997 2006 over €3.2 billion in capital and current funding has been invested in the rail network. A high quality public transport system is fundamental to support economic growth and development, and to contain greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions".
Issued by: Michelle Hoctor, 087 8563070
Veronica Scanlan, 087 6430622