Plans to buy 600 electric and battery-electric powered carriages over 10 years

Proposed framework tender provides for purchase of 300 more carriages, which will include replacement of the Dart fleet by 2027

Iarnród Éireann and the National Transport Authority have begun plans to buy up to 600 electric and battery-electric powered carriages over 10 years in the single biggest ever purchase of railway stock in the State's history.

Under Project Ireland 2040, €2 billion will be spent to electrify lines between Dublin and Maynooth, M3 Parkway, Hazelhatch and Drogheda; the purchase of 300 carriages; and increased capacity in Greater Dublin.

However, the proposed framework tender provides for the purchase of up to 300 more carriages, which will include the replacement of the Dart fleet by 2027, when the original carriages will be 45 years old.

In addition, the NTA and Iarnród Éireann are laying plans to ensure that a system is in place to buy more carriages for delivered quickly if, as expected, further passenger growth takes place on Ireland’s railways.


However, the tender is separate to the current order placed by Irish Rail for an additional 41 InterCity carriages which are being sourced from Irish Rail's existing supplier Hyundai Rotem of Korea.

It is separate from the National Transport Authority's order for 66 previously-used trains that can be brought into service quickly once converted to run on Irish railway track gauges. No date has been set for the contract, but the NTA has already had interest from Britain, as well as Australia.

Hybrid trains

Electricity-powered trains are expected to make up the overwhelming majority of new train orders, but the latest tender process is also providing for a possible first tranche of battery-electric hybrid trains.

This is to ensure that, should funding for Dart expansion be pulled or planning permission for live overhead wires be delayed, the new electric trains could still run on existing tracks, according to transport sources.

Once completed, the Greater Dublin Area’s total rail fleet, and up to 80 percent of all heavy rail journeys in Ireland, will be ready for a potentially emissions-free future. Noise levels would also be significantly reduced.

The chief executive of Iarnród Éireann, Jim Meade, said Dart expansion would "revolutionise" Dublin's public transport, while carriages currently used on Dart would become available for other lines.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist