Enterprise rail service aims for hourly service between Dublin and Belfast
Translink and Iarnród Éireann have launched an ambitious new strategic development plan for the Cross-border Enterprise Rail Service between Belfast and Dublin. Called ‘Better Connecting Dublin and Belfast’, the strategy sets out a road map of how both companies jointly plan to further enhance the service on this important north/south rail corridor.
The plan launched by the Chairmen of both organisations envisages a three staged approach – starting with the introduction of new fleet to allow for an hourly frequency between the two cities and with additional investment in infrastructure and line improvements, it sets out the ambition to reduce the average journey time to less than two hours. From there, the longer-term aspiration would be to introduce electrification on the line and new rolling stock which would achieve further frequency improvements and a journey time of potentially 90mins or less.
The plan was launched at the centrepiece of a business and stakeholder event held as part of Bus + Train Week 2018 at the Europa Hotel where the theme was “Transforming Public Transport Infrastructure in NI.” Attendees at the event also heard from Peter May, Permanent Secretary, Department for Infrastructure, Anne Graham, CEO, National Transport Authority Ireland, Chris Conway, CEO, Translink, Jim Meade, CEO, Irish Rail and Richard Kirk, from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) who are behind the 2018 NI Year of Infrastructure platform #Infra2018.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of Translink, Frank Hewitt said;
“Developing the Cross-Border Enterprise Rail Service will be essential to further strengthening economic links and is key to building competitiveness and increasing close communication links between our two capital cities. The plan launched today aligns with both Programmes for Government to support the growth of public transport while also delivering social and environmental benefits by decongesting roads, promoting all-Ireland Tourism and reducing carbon emissions.
“Last year we carried almost 1million passenger journeys on Enterprise and we believe more and more people want to use public transport as a way to enjoy high quality, affordable travel experiences. We are committed to building on this success and want to make it even better in order to further increase modal shift toward sustainable transport.”
Frank Allen, Chairman of Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail said,
“This is a strategy founded in partnership. The partnership between both railways, within which generations have worked together from platform to boardroom to build the joint service we offer our customers today. Our joint strategy builds upon that legacy to continue to enhance the role we can play for the customers and communities we serve.
“The partnership with our stakeholders in business, tourism, central and local government and other major sectors is reflected in this strategy also. Our stakeholders have engaged with us as we have developed this strategy, and we value their continued partnership as we seek to support each other in what our rail services achieve for our economy and society in the years ahead.
“The next steps are to secure funding to take this project forward and Translink and Iarnród Éireann are keen that approval is granted to start procurement of a new Enterprise fleet and to fund a project to undertake a detailed Technical and Feasibility study to further assess the journey time improvement options”, he concluded.