IARNRÓD Éireann announced on July 9 that it will place a record order for new inter-city vehicles later this year.

IE plans to buy a fleet of 120 'high-specification' diesel multiple-unit cars suitable for 160 km/h operation. Expected to cost over €300m, they will be funded under the Irish government's 2000-06 National Development Plan.

The DMUs will supplement a build of 67 push-pull cars ordered from CAF at a cost of €117m (RG 1.03 p6). These are designed to run as nine-car sets, and the first is due for delivery in October 2005. When all 67 cars are in service, they will allow IE to introduce an hourly service on its principal Dublin - Cork main line.

The DMU cars will start to arrive in 2007, replacing 30 year-old loco-hauled stock on other inter-city routes. IE is planning to offer an hourly service all day between Dublin and Limerick. Dublin - Waterford and Dublin - Sligo will operate every 2h; Dublin - Galway will be two-hourly off peak and hourly at peak times. Extra shuttles will augment services on the branches from Athlone to Westport and Mallow to Tralee, connecting with the main line trains.

IE is currently assessing sites for a new depot to maintain and service the inter-city fleet. This will be similar to the DMU servicing centre recently opened at Drogheda for the IE commuter fleet.