New trains for Sligo line are on the way
THE first trains from a new ?400 million intercity rail fleet will be introduced on the Sligo-Dublin route in the coming months.After what Iarnrod Eireann officials described as a "fantastic" reaction to an open day to showcase the new railcars at MacDiarmada station, Sligo, on Saturday, testing and commissioning of the trains is now continuing and passengers on the Sligo li
THE first trains from a new ?400 million intercity rail fleet will be introduced on the Sligo-Dublin route in the coming months.
After what Iarnrod Eireann officials described as a "fantastic" reaction to an open day to showcase the new railcars at MacDiarmada station, Sligo, on Saturday, testing and commissioning of the trains is now continuing and passengers on the Sligo line could see them in service as early as August.
Over eight hundred people visited Sligo station to get a sneak preview of the eco-friendly railcars, and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
"There was a phenomenal interest in the new trains. We have had a few of these open days around the country in the past, but Sligo surpassed anything so far. We are now looking forward to all those people who viewed the trains travelling on them in quality and comfort in the near future," said Irish Rail's Press and Public Relations Officer, Mr. Barry Kenny.
Sligo Station Master, Mr. Jim Doherty, added that there had been a very positive feedback to the open day, which ran from 10am to 5pm.
"We had over eight hundred people here, mainly passengers and a lot of families. We were very happy and will be even more so when the trains enter service," he commented.
The Sligo-Dublin route is the national network's fastest growing, with more than 1.1 million passenger journeys last year, an increase of over seventeen per cent on 2005.
Since 1999, over ?150 million has been invested in Sligo services, including the total renewal of track along the route, resignalling, level crossings, platform lengthening and other safety investment.
The figure also includes investment in the existing railcar fleet introduced in December 2005, which resulted in an increase in services from three each way per day to five. This will rise to seven per day with the introduced of the new fleet in 2008.
The new trains have a series of safety and comfort features, including automatic PA and information display systems, electronic seat reservation displays for web bookings, full air-conditioning, internal and external CCTV systems for improved security, sleek carriage design with a return to the traditional 'table and seats' format, power points at each seating area for laptop use, etc., improved accessibility for mobility-impaired customers, including wheelchair facilities (with direct communication to the driver for wheelchair passengers), carpeting throughout and integral engines in each carriage for better reliability and performance.
The new fleet will also be the 'greenest' diesel train fleet in Europe and after being first introduced on the Sligo line will be phased into service across the country through 2007 and 2008.
The 183 carriage intercity railcar order was funded by the Irish Government under the Transport 21 investment programme and the European Regional Development Fund.
They were ordered from Mitsui of Japan, in partnership with Rotem of the Republic of Korea and the Tokyu car corporation in Japan.
Trains operating on the Sligo-Dublin route will be in three-car and six-car sets, with seating for 192 customers and 378 customers respectively.
The Mayor of Sligo, Councillor Jonathan McGoldrick, the Chairman of Sligo County Council, Councillor Seamus Kilgannon, newly elected Deputy Eamonn Scanlon, Councillor Aidan Colleary and other public representatives were among those who attended at MacDiarmada Station to preview the trains.
It was all a far cry from the mid-1990's when the local Chamber of Commerce, together with Chambers along the line, organised two 'campaign trains' to 'save the Sligo line', which was threatened with closure.
"We are absolutely delighted with recent developments on the Sligo line and we have had a good reaction to the new trains.
"We look forward to their introduction in the not too distant future," said Mr. Cal Carmichael, General Manager, Northern and Eastern routes, who attended Saturday's open day.