Iarnród Éireann (IE) and the National Transport Authority (NTA) of Ireland seek expressions of interest from global train manufacturers for the delivery of new EMUs and BEMUs. The new trains will replace the original DART trains and make it possible to expand the fleet considerably. Other carriages will be used outside the DART network and IE wants to ensure that the framework is in place for more carriages to be ordered if further growth in demand occurs.
In total, IE may order up to 600 electric / battery-electric powered carriages, to be delivered during a 10-year period. Although it is expected that most new trains will be EMUs, the tender process is also providing for a possible first tranche of battery-electric hybrid trains (BEMUs). This is to ensure that, should funding or planning processes see the electrification of the first of the lines be completed beyond 2024, that new trains will be available from that date to meet the surging demand from commuters.
The DART Expansion programme
DART stands for Dublin Area Rapid Transport. Soon, the original 76-carriage DART-fleet will be around 40 years old. The 38 2-car EMUs, series 8100/8300, were built in the early 80s by Linke-Hofmann in Germany and were modernized in 2007 and 2008.
IE wants to order 300 cars to transform the capacity of the DART rail network. This investment is part of the EUR 2 billion DART Expansion prorgramme that also comprises the electrification of lines to Maynooth, M3 Parkway, Hazelhatch, and Drogheda, and key infrastructure works to allow more trains to operate in the Greater Dublin Area.
New trains to reduce CO2 emissions
But IE and FRA also want to introduce a new generation of trains beyond the DART network – Eventually making it possible to make up to 80% of all heavy rail journeys in Ireland emission-free, as well as generating reductions in noise, and cost savings in train operations.
Short-term fleet-expansion plans
IE and the NTA are progressing shorter-term options to meet record demand on Ireland’s railways. With 47.9 million journeys in 2018, and capacity requirements becoming acute at peak times, this includes:
- Ordering at least 41 extra Intercity cars, adding to an existing fleet of 234 vehicles, to enter service from late 2021
- A tender process is underway by the NTA for the possible purchase or lease of pre-owned trains, which also would involve modifications, particularly as Ireland’s track gauge differs from that of other railways.
Railcolor: In the UK and Ireland it is common to express the fleet size in ‘cars’ – not in complete multiple units.