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Still No Contracts Signed For Extra Trains

October 7th 2019

In 2018 Irish Rail surpassed the previous all time passenger record set in 2007 and is set to carry 50 million passengers for the first time in 2019. Overcrowding has reached chronic levels across nearly all routes. No new trains have entered service since 2012 and there are no plans to refurbish 37 modern coaches lying out of service.

It is clear to Rail Users Ireland the delays in getting more trains are down the National Transport Authority adding a layer of bureaucracy, lacking expertise and staffing to engage in the complex process. The National Transport Authority has previously confirmed to Rail Users Ireland that it will not own any new trains, so why are they involved in the process in the first place?

Given the long lead times in the purchase of trains it will take up to 4 years before any large new order of trains would come on stream, action is required immediately as overcrowding will only get worse and unless action is taken in the next few months conditions across the rail network, will become intorerable in the years to come.


In the face of daily overcrowding it will come as a surprise that there are 37 modern coaches, dumped out of service.

2700 fleet
GEC Alsthom of Spain 1997
27 commuter coaches, 25 single ended and 2 double ended
Withdrawn from service in 2012 (15 years in service)

8200 fleet
GEC Alsthom of Spain 1999
10 DART coaches, 5 2 coach trains
Withdrawn from service in 2008 (9 years in service)

These 37 coaches were funded by a combination of EU and Irish taxpayers money, with an expectation of 30+ years service. Irish Rail management appear to have no interest today in getting these trains back into service, even though they present the cheapest and least risk course of action to address overcrowding in the short term.


In 2016 Irish Rail projected it would run out of capacity by 2019 and additional capacity was required in the short term. Represenations were made to the National Transport Authority for funding for two distinct projects, neither of which delivered anything.

1. Purchase of 41 intercity coaches under an existing framework agreement with Hyundai Rotem of Korea. It was assumed in 2016 an order could be placed in 2017 for delivery in 2019. As of today October 6, 2019 no order has been placed and all inquiries made continue to claim the order is imminent and contracts be signed in the next month or so.

2. Refurbishment of 27 commuter railcars withdrawn from service in 2012. This was a prolonged tender process which resulted in only a single tender from a UK company which priced in Brexit as a risk. A FOI request may by Rail Users Ireland has still not resulted in the required statutory response. Irish Rail management has since spoken negatively about any effort to refurbish these coaches and hinted that they may never return to service.

The National Transport Authority further complicated matters by launching a tender for the lease of 60 diesel railcars. As both the track and loading gauge used in Ireland is unique no suitable trains exist and any which do (UK) would require heavy modification. This was never a realistic option and served as a distraction from the need to actually order new trains. This tender has since been abandoned.

DART fleet

DART passenger growth continues, but with no extra fleet since 2004 and in fact a reduction of 10 coaches since then, morning rush hour conditions are unacceptable. The original DART fleet has become increasingly unrealiable leading to cancellations at peak hour, something never before seen in Dublin.

Current DART service consists of 1x4 coach train, 10x6 coach trains and 7x8 coach trains. To provide a full 8 coach service requires 24 more coaches. 76 of the current fleet are now 35 years old and require replacement, thus there exists a need for 100 DART coaches for the existing route before considering expansion of DART to Maynooth, Drogheda and Hazelhatch.

The process is at pre-qualification, with an expected contract award in Summer 2020, it will take 3-4 years from that point until the vehicles are in service. Best case is late 2023. The existing 1983 built DART fleet will not be replaced until 2030, 47 years old based on the documentation Irish Rail has released.

Last Updated: October 07 2019 01:29:38
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