Back to the future: Ireland’s rail network is on the cusp of a new dawn
Eamon Ryan, Ireland’s Minister of Transport, anticipates the future plans for rail within Ireland in the coming years, with a focus on the island as a whole in delivering a more connected, sustainable and reliable public transport offering.
In 1834, Ireland’s first rail service began in Dublin, linking the city centre with Dún Laoghaire, a suburb to the south east. It is fair to say that the intervening 187 years have brought fluctuating circumstances for rail in Ireland; with rapid expansion, followed by later retrenchment of services and networks and, in more recent years, rapid growth in passenger numbers.
The European Union (EU) has designated 2021 as the European Year of Rail, and it is fitting that this year we will launch a strategic review of the rail network across the island of Ireland, examining its potential to provide improved sustainable mobility options for both passengers and freight. This review will be carried out in co-operation with our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Executive and will represent the first ever all-island examination of the role of rail in enhancing inter‑urban and inter-regional connectivity. The review will also set out a pathway to the decarbonisation of our mainline rail network and ensure that our inter-urban rail services become greener and cleaner in the years ahead.