In a significant boost for Irish public transportation, Minister of Transport Eamon Ryan has won approval from the Cabinet for Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) to order 90 new battery-electric train carriages from Alstom before Christmas this year, for delivery in 2026.
The additional carriages will greatly increase Ireland’s rail transportation capacity, especially for the Greater Dublin Area and Eastern region’s burgeoning DART system. The carriages will support the larger DART+ Program, which is extending the current DART service from Dublin City Centre to Drogheda to the north, Maynooth/M3 Parkway to the west, and Celbridge/Hazelhatch to the south-west. The DART+ Program will significantly expand the number of people who can use a frequent, high-capacity rail service, resulting in an increase from the current 250,000 to 600,000 people who live within 1 km of a DART station.
In the future, depending on funding for necessary infrastructure, it may be possible to use the carriages between Greystones and Wicklow and/or for the Cork Area Commuter Rail, which serves villages between Mallow, Cork, Cobh, and Midleton.
The government has given IÉ permission to buy 90 train carriages from Alstom over the next few weeks using an existing established procurement mechanism. These carriages will be delivered to the Irish rail system in 2026. The Department of Transport will pay for the 18 contemporary 5-carriage Battery-Electric Multiple Units (BEMUs) through the National Transport Authority (NTA), for a total estimated cost of €179 million. Additionally, 95 additional electric and battery-electric DART carriages that will go into service in 2025 were approved by the government in December.
The BEMUs can run in battery-electric mode in other areas of the rail network or in an electric-only mode using overhead electric wires, maximizing flexibility and capacity and assisting in the replacement and decarbonization of current diesel-fleet operations.
Minister Ryan’s remarks:
“I am delighted that the Cabinet agreed today to the purchase of 90 new battery-electric train carriages for arrival in 2026. This comes on top of the 41 intercity carriages currently arriving into Ireland as well as the 95 carriages approved by Government last year for the DART+ Programme. This government is continuing to do more to transform our rail and public transport systems than any other in decades. We are doing this because the scale of change we need to make is beyond compare – to provide better, more frequent and more accessible transport choices to many more people and to meet our emissions targets.”
The NTA’s CEO, Anne Graham, stated:
“I have no doubt that the DART+ as a programme of projects will prove to be transformative for the entire region, and work is already proceeding well on progressing the infrastructure schemes.
“The procurement of these battery-electric carriages is indicative of the urgency that is being shown when it comes to providing sustainable accessible transport alternatives for communities along these lines and beyond.
“In the draft GDA Transport Strategy 2022-2042, we announced that Public Service Obligation bus and commuter rail fleet in the Dublin Metropolitan Area will be 100% electric and zero-emission by 2035. Today’s announcement marks a significant step towards that objective.”
CEO of Iarnód Éreann Jim Meade applauded the Cabinet’s choice:
“The funding for 90 additional battery-electric carriages for DART+ is hugely welcome, as it will enable us to bring capacity and emission benefits to current and future commuters in advance of electrification. Additionally, the benefits will be felt nationwide, as existing Intercity and Commuter carriages operating in the Greater Dublin Area are freed up for use around the national network for more frequent services and more capacity on a range of routes.”