Iarnród Éireann and Alstom has signed a contract for 90 additional battery-electric carriages for the rail company's fleet, following a Cabinet decision earlier this week, and final formal funding approval from the National Transport Authority.

The accelerated investment will enable Iarnród Éireann to deliver more capacity and decarbonisation benefits in advance of electrification of the extended DART+ network.

It said the order of 90 carriages, a project investment of €179 million, brings to 185 DART+ carriages ordered from Alstom over the past 12 months, from a framework agreement for the largest and most sustainable ever order of fleet for Ireland's public transport network, which will allow up to 750 carriages to be ordered over the coming decade.

It said the new carriages will significantly enhance rail transport capacity, particularly to the expanding DART system in the Greater Dublin Area and Eastern region.

The carriages will facilitate the wider DART+ Programme which is expanding the existing DART service from Dublin City Centre to Drogheda to the north, Maynooth/M3 Parkway to the west, Celbridge/Hazelhatch to the south-west.

Iarnród Eireann said the DART+ Programme will dramatically increase the number of people that can avail of a frequent, high-capacity rail service, increasing the number of people living within 1km of a DART station from circa 250,000 at present to 600,000 in future.

It said the adaptable nature of the carriages means there is also potential to use them at some stage in the future between Greystones and Wicklow and/or for Cork Area Commuter Rail, serving communities between Mallow, Cork, Cobh and Midleton, subject to available funding for necessary infrastructure.

The BEMUs can operate in electric-only mode using overhead electric wires or, through the use of batteries, in battery-electric operation in other parts of the rail network, maximising flexibility and capacity, and helping to replace and decarbonise existing diesel-fleet operations.

IÉ, supported by the NTA, and Alstom entered into a framework agreement in December 2021 allowing for up to 750 new DART carriages to be ordered over a 10-year period. Today's funding allows the second tranche of carriages to be ordered, bringing to 185 the number ordered to date.

Alstom is one of the largest global suppliers of trains, and is well known to Irish transport users as the supplier of the LUAS tram fleet, and globally as the manufacturer of TGV high-speed trains.

Alstom will deliver the new DART+ fleet as an energy efficient suburban transport solution from its proven X’Trapolis family of trains, with over 2,000 of these already in service in more than 10 countries, but with bespoke refinements to meet the needs of Iarnród Éireann, including Ireland’s specific track gauge.