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All Ireland Rail Review Proposes €37billion Transformation

All Ireland Rail Review Proposes €37billion Transformation

A long awaited report into the rail services across the Island of Ireland has proposed an ambitious plan to build new lines, boost capacity and increase train speeds. 

An All Island Rail Review has set out 30 recommendations in a €37 billion plan to transform the current rail system in Ireland.  

Commissioned in June 2021, the Review has proposed new train routes, a move towards a rail spine along the Atlantic, and increased frequency on existing routes between major cities.  

The review’s recommendations span over 25 years with a number of proposals that could be implemented before 2030.  

Some recommendations include: 

  • Increasing the frequency of services to at least hourly between major cities and to at least one train every two hours between other centres 
  • Enhancing rail capacity for freight  
  • Building the Limerick to Foynes railway 
  • Starting the South Wexford Railway between Waterford and Rosslare Europort 
  • Developing first and last-mile rail to Dublin Port  
  • Decarbonising the rail network with more electrification and use of battery and hydrogen traction 
  • Reinstating the Claremorris to Athenry line, moving towards a rail spine along the Atlantic 
  • Reinstating the Antrim to Lisburn line with a station at Belfast International Airport


Proposals also include a new line serving Donegal which would see a route running from the existing Dublin-Belfast line at Portadown, through Dungannon, Omagh, Strabane, Letterkenny and on to Derry. 

Journey times on trains between some cities could be halved, with consistent speeds of up to 200kmh possible. Currently, the limit is 140-160kmh and this only relates to certain stretches. 

Overall, the plan envisages laying an additional 650km of railway to connect towns currently without trains and to boost existing services. That is a 28pc increase on the track in place and it would bring 700,000 more people within 5km of a regularly served railway station. 

Undertaken in cooperation with the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland, the report and recommendations requires the approval of governments in both jurisdictions due to its 32-county nature. 

The total cost of implementing the transformative recommendations is estimated to be around €37 billion based on 2023 prices. Of that around 75% would be paid by the Irish Government while Stormont would be expected to pay 25%.  

The Department of Transport said this was an annual capital investment of a billion euro a year above existing plans, and “roughly equivalent” to peak annual investment in the motorway network in the late 2000s. 

After bringing the report to Cabinet, Green Party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan told reporters: “It’s a new age of rail. 

“This country, back in the 1920s, had probably the most dense rail network in the world. 

“We’re going to add to what’s existing and bring back high-speed rail, frequent rail, rail freight, better balanced regional development. 

“It’s not cheap, but at the same time, not doing it would be incredibly expensive. Our country would be gridlocked, our emissions would be rising – this gives us a better alternative, a transport system that works for everyone.” 

The Cabinet approved the review in principle and it will now be open to public consultation until September 29 before a final plan is completed by the end of the year.  


The proposed future of Irish railways

New Rail Map