French giant Alstom will supply Iarnród Éireann a new Dart fleet, starting with a €318 million deal for 95 wagons, in a standard contract for state railways.
The National Development Plan proposes expanding the Dart network in Dublin, increasing its reach from 50 km to 150 km.
Alstom will supply up to 750 wagons to Iarnród Éireann over 10 years for the expanded network in a deal the couple announced on Monday.
The French locomotive maker will supply an initial 95 wagons for €318 million under the terms of the agreement.
According to Iarnród Éireann, the agreement is the largest of its kind in Irish public transport history.
Iarnród Éireann will use the carriages on the proposed Drogheda to Dublin’s Northern Passenger Service and on the existing Malahide-Howth and Bray-Greystones Dart lines.
The government company notes that the new vehicles will provide other vehicles for use on other passenger services and intercity roads.
Alstom is one of the largest manufacturers of locomotives in the world. It already supplies LOAS trains in Dublin, but is best known as the company behind high-speed intercity TGV trains in France.
Dubbed Dart+, the expansion plan consists of five projects. The western component will provide more frequent services between Dublin, Maynooth and the M3 Parkway.
After two public consultations, Iarnród Éireann intends to double frequencies to 12 trains per hour and increase passenger capacity to 13,200 from 5,000.
Consultations are underway on the southwest component from Dublin to Hazelhatch and Celbridge.
This will increase services to 23 trains per hour from 12, quadrupling the number of potential passengers to 20,000. That plan includes proposals to increase space on existing passenger services and intercity services on the route.
In between, the North and South Coast would extend service from the Greystones to Drogheda from the present termination point at Malahide.
Iarnród Éireann will start researching audience opinions halfway through next year.
The Dart+ fleet program includes adding 750 battery and electric vehicles to service over a decade to meet the demand for the newly built and expanded routes.
The initial deal agreed with Alstom includes six conventional five-car electric locomotives and 13 five-car electric locomotives.
According to Iarnród Éireann, the proforma invoice of €318 million includes a one-time design cost, which will not apply to subsequent deliveries.
Alstom will also maintain the trains for 15 years and will provide three driver training simulators.
The government has agreed to spend 318 million euros, which will be provided by the National Transport Authority under the 2021-2030 development plan.
The five-car trains would be as tall as the current four-car locomotives now used on the Dart, but on a larger scale.
The plan allows for the inclusion of two people to create trains of 10 wagons, which will be able to carry at least 1,100 passengers.
Iarnród Éireann says the carriages will have better security, including CCTV.
The new facilities will include better and clearer passenger information, cell phone chargers and space for bicycles.
Jim Mead, CEO of Iarnród Éireann, said the agreement and the strengthening associated with the Dart network will allow the company to realize its ambition to be the « backbone of Ireland’s sustainable transport network ».
Nick Crossfield, Alstom’s managing director in Ireland and the UK, said the Republic was an important market for the company.
« This demand reinforces Alstom’s position as the world’s leading innovator and supplier of green mobility technologies, » he added.
Ann Graham, chief executive of the NTA, said the deal was a signal of progress in plans to develop a public transport service in the Dublin area that will meet and exceed demands for decades to come.
« Expanding and improving public transportation is key to reaching our climate goals, » Transportation Secretary Eamon Ryan said.
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