The funding represents an increase of 40% on the previous investment programme. It will be used for rail civil engineering programmes, including track relaying, signalling improvements and safety related initiatives.
The money is being provided through the Infrastructure Manager Multi-Annual Contract, or IMMAC, which will be entered into by the minister for transport, tourism and sport Shane Ross and national rail operator Iarnród Éireann. It will cover the period 2020 to 2024.
Ross said: “This is a significant step forward in terms of funding the rail network. The Exchequer funding that is committed over the next five years represents an almost 40% increase on the level of funding provided between 2014 and 2018. This level of investment means that the rail network is now being funded at the ‘steady state’ level required to ensure optimal maintenance, renewal and improvement of our rail infrastructure.”
The Iarnród Éireann infrastructure network currently extends to approximately 2,400km of operational track, 4,440 bridges, 1,100 point ends, 970 level crossings, 144 stations, over 3,300 cuttings and embankments, 372 platforms and 13 tunnels. The network includes main line, Dublin suburban and commuter passenger routes, together with freight-only routes.
Iarnród Éireann chief executive Jim Meade said: “The very welcome agreement of the contract for 2020 to 2024 enables our Infrastructure team to continue to maintain and enhance the safe provision of our physical network over this five-year period. We thank the minister and his officials for their ongoing commitment to the sustainable funding of the national asset which our rail network represents. We are also grateful for the contribution of the CRR [Commission for Railway Regulation] who, together with department officials engaged in reviewing previous contracts to inform the future works programme and key indicators for monitoring.”
Funding provided under the IMMAC investment programme is separate to funding provided for other rail related projects such as the recently approved National Train Control Centre and the expansion of the Greater Dublin Area Commuter Rail Fleet. It is also separate to the planned investment under the Dart Expansion Programme.