Irish national railway company, Iarnród Éireann, and the National Transport Authority (NTA) launched a tender for the procurement of up to 600 electric/battery-electric powered carriages. The new commuter vehicles will be a mixture of Electrical Multiple Units (EMU) and Battery Electrical Multiple Units (BEMU).
Under the tender, a 10-year single party framework agreement will be signed. A technical services and spares supply agreement of up to 15 years in duration will also form part of the overall contract award.
This is the largest and greenest rolling stock fleet procurement in Irish public transport history.
While electricity-powered trains are expected to make up the overwhelming majority of train orders, the tender process is also providing for a possible first tranche of battery-electric hybrid trains. 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 trains will operate on 1600mm track gauge, will operate in both full length and half-length formations (i.e. where a full length formation will be between 160m and 168m in length) and will be required to meet other gauging requirements of the Irish Rail network.
The overall order will see the Greater Dublin Area total rail fleet, and up to 80% of all heavy rail journeys in Ireland, set for a potentially emissions-free future, as well as generating reductions in noise, and cost savings in train operations.
This tender allows for the planned fleet expansion, replacement of the original DART fleet and other carriages and ensure that the framework is in place for more carriages to be ordered if further growth in demand occurs.
DART Expansion, a EUR 2 billion investment under Project Ireland 2040, will see the capacity of the rail network transformed through investment in up to 300 new carriages, 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.
“The commencement of the tender process for our new fleet is the first major step in the DART expansion project, which will revolutionise public transport in the greater Dublin area, providing an even more frequent and environmentally sustainable commuting option for new and existing communities,” Chief Executive of Iarnród Eireann, Jim Meade said.
As well as this major order, Iarnród Éireann and the NTA are progressing shorter-term options to meet record demand on Ireland’s railways. Negotiations are underway between Iarnród Éireann and its supplier seeking to agree an order for at least 41 extra intercity railcar carriages, adding to an existing fleet of 234 vehicles, to enter service from late 2021. In addition, a tender process is underway by the NTA for the possible purchase or lease of pre-owned trains, which also would involve modifications to fleet, particularly as Ireland’s track gauge differs from that of other railways.