Irish Rail (Iarnród Éireann) and Alstom signed a ten-year framework agreement for the supply of 750 new X’trapolis rail cars and battery trains for the DART network, with a firm order for 19 five-car trains worth EUR 270 million. The contract includes the delivery of support services for a period of 15 years. In addition, the rail company has also ordered 13 battery trains. The first order covers the supply of a total fleet of 95 electric and battery-electric rail cars which are expected to enter passenger operation in 2025.
The initial order includes the supply of 6 five-car electric multiple units and 13 five-car battery-electric multiple units (BEMUs), capable of journeys beyond 80 kilometres outside the electrified network under battery power, and the first modern battery fleet in Ireland. Energy stored in the battery system will be replenished via fast charging stations at chosen terminus locations and by recovering braking energy while the train is in motion. This capability will deliver emission-free connectivity and capacity ahead of electrification of the full DART+ network. Alstom will continue to support the DART fleet for a period of 15 years, providing technical support and spares, and deploying its HealthHub and TrainScanner technologies for predictive maintenance.
The Irish Government has given approval for EUR 318 million for the initial order for DART+ Fleet, and this includes substantial one-off design costs which are not applicable for subsequent orders for additional trains under the 750-carriage framework agreement and will mean any future orders will incur costs of as little as 50% of the initial order.
The modular X’trapolis rail cars will be specially tailored for the DART+ programme. Each 82-metre-long train will have space for 550 passengers with wide, walk-though gangways, low-level floor, and an automatic retractable step to maximise accessibility.
Other features include dedicated cycle and family areas, enhanced passenger features such as charging facilities for mobile phones, e-bikes and e-scooters and advanced CCTV systems throughout the train, to enhance safety and security for customers and employees.
The introduction of the new fleet will free up the existing carriages to increase capacity on other commuter and intercity services. The battery-electric carriages will be deployed on Drogheda to Dublin Northern Commuter services while the electric rail cars will enter operation on the existing Malahide/Howth to Bray/Greystones DART services, to maximise the capacity.
The contract is part of the DART+ Programme funded by the National Transport Authority under the National Development Plan 2021-2030. DART+ will facilitate sustainable mobility and development to enhance quality of life in our capital and its surrounding counties. When the programme will be completed, the DART network in Greater Dublin Area will double the capacity and treble the electrification.