A new control centre at Heuston Station in Dublin to manage a quarter of a million train movements across the country each year should help keep timetables on track and make passengers better informed of services, Irish Rail has said.
Funded to the tune of €140 million, the National Transport Authority (NTA) as part of Project Ireland 2040, the construction has just been restarted after the pandemic forced the brakes to be applied in March.
Irish Rail has promised that the investment will “ensure future service growth is provided for, allowing hundreds of thousands more train movements and any network expansions to be managed efficiently and effectively”.
The new control centre should also help with the provision of customer information at stations, on the Iarnród Éireann website and on social media platforms, the company said.
The existing control centre in Connolly Station opened in the 1970s, and is being replaced due to capacity constraints and to facilitate the redevelopment of the station.
According to Irish Rail, the new centre at Heuston will allow for the integration of signalling and communications across the vast majority of the rail network, and allows for the expansion of the network in the future while improving train performance and reliability.
Construction was delayed due to Covid-19, but social distancing and infection control measures to mitigate the risk of the spread the disease are being implemented and rolled out across the project, with construction expected to be completed by the winter of 2021, with the building operational from 2022.
The chief executive of Irish Rail, Jim Meade, said the new HQ would "greatly enhance our signalling and communications abilities, improve punctuality for customers, and transform train management".
“It will also enable growth of our network in the futureproof the signalling of the railway for generations to come.”
Split over five floors and 5,500sq m, the building will also host the metropolitan unit of An Garda Síochána and the traffic management section of Dublin City Council.
It will also manage a large proportion of the State’s emergency 999/112 calls, and will host the Dublin City Council unit responsible for monitoring events such as St Patrick’s Day or a State visits.
"This piece of investment is a key component in the modernisation of our rail network, and is indicative of the commitment to improving services for customers well into the future," said Anne Graham of the NTA.