DARTplus impression IE

IRELAND: Alstom was formally confirmed as supplier of up to 750 suburban multiple-unit cars for Iarnród Éireann as part of its DART+ Programme on December 13, having been named preferred bidder in June.

An initial firm order of 95 vehicles has been placed by the national railway for the Dublin suburban network. This comprises 19 five-car articulated EMUs for the 1∙5 kV DC network, of which 13 will also be fitted with batteries for off-wire operation. The €317∙8m price for the initial order includes substantial design costs for the full framework agreement which is expected to see a rolling programme of train deliveries over the next decade.

Dart Plus Map

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, Alstom group CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge and Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority Anne Graham joined Iarnród Éireann’s Chief Executive Jim Meade at Inchicore Works in Dublin to formally sign the contract, with the operator noting that this is ‘the largest and most sustainable ever’ fleet order for Ireland’s public transport network.

Funded under NTA’s National Development Plan 2021-30, the order forms part of the DART+ Programme to more than double the commuter capacity and treble the length of suburban electrification in the greater Dublin area.

Due for delivery from mid-2024 and expected to enter service in 2025, the DART+ cars will be based on Alstom’s X’Trapolis family. Some adaptation of the design will be needed to fit the 1 600 mm gauge Dublin network. Arrival of the new trains will enable the withdrawal of the original DART EMU fleet introduced in 1984.

Longer sets in development

The articulated five-car X’Trapolis sets will a similar length to the existing four-car DART EMUs, with wide gangways between vehicles to improve passenger circulation. They will have a maximum speed of 145 km/h.

DARTplus interior IE

Future orders are expected to include a 10-car version, which would be the longest train operable on current infrastructure. This would be formed of two five-car half-sets with full bogies on the inner ends of the centre cars but would be gangwayed throughout. The longer sets would have capacity for at least 1 100 passengers.

The design will prioritise PRM accessibility, with each of the low-height doorways being equipped with an automatic retractable step that offers the potential for unassisted level boarding, subject to platform height modifications at some stations. There will be improved facilities for families and cyclists, including dedicated storage areas, and charging points for personal electronic devices, e-bikes and e-scooters.

Modern passenger information systems featuring large TFT screens and aids for those with sensory impairments are to be fitted, as is advanced CCTV with cameras throughout every vehicle. The driving cab design is to be developed jointly with DART crews to ensure an ergonomic and user-friendly design.

Battery power to Drogheda

Battery traction will allow the trains to run beyond the existing 52 route-km electrified network pending the further extension of wires as part of the DART+ Programme. Rapid recharge facilities are to be installed at some stations to support BEMU operations, while regenerated braking energy will also be used to top up the battery, giving trains an off-wire range of more than 80 km for a recharging time of less than 20 min.

DARTplus level boarding IE

This should enable Iarnród Eireann to extend DART services as far as Drogheda, where fast charging would be provided. The electric-only trains would be deployed on existing DART services linking Malahide and Howth to Bray and Greystones, in order to maximise capacity. The trains would be maintained at the existing DART depot.

Alstom will provide a range of support services, including three simulators to support driver training. A Technical Support & Spares Supply agreement will cover the first 15 years of operation.