ON JANUARY 31 Ireland's Minister for Transport Martin Cullen announced that Iarnród Éireann had placed its biggest-ever order for new rolling stock, valued at €262m. A fleet of 120 diesel multiple-unit vehicles (RG 8.04 p448) will complete the replacement of IE's inter-city fleet, of which half is more than 30 years old.

Funded under Ireland's National Development Plan, the contract has been awarded to Japanese trading group Mitsui. The cars will be designed by Tokyu Car and assembled by Rotem in South Korea. The first trains are expected to enter service in 2007 and the remainder by the end of 2008.

IE plans to operate the fleet as 10 six-car and 20 three-car sets. They will be used on services from Dublin to Galway, Westport, Ballina, Limerick, Waterford and Tralee, which will be restructured to run at regular hourly or two-hourly intervals.

Cullen said that 'by 2008, Irish rail passengers will be using the most modern inter-city train fleet in Europe'. Later this year IE will take delivery of 67 push-pull coaches ordered from CAF for €117m to operate the premier Dublin - Cork route. Over the past six years the government has allocated €650m for IE upgrading, including renewal of track and signalling across the network.

  • Later this year IE will take delivery of 36 more suburban DMU cars, ordered from CAF for €83m as a follow-on from the 32 Class 2900 cars (RG 8.03 p477). The extra eight-car sets will be used on services from Dublin to Balbriggan, Drogheda and Naas.