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Enterprise: Belfast-Dublin rail to receive multi-million investment

Published on 9 April 2024

Cross-border rail services between Belfast and Dublin are set to benefit from a £141.9m investment.

The investment is part of the Peace Plus initiative which funds projects in Northern Ireland and border counties.

The funding will support a major programme aimed at providing an hourly service between Belfast and Dublin.

All existing Enterprise trains are to be replaced with brand new trains by the end of this decade leading to faster journey times.

Ian Campbell from transport company Translink said that the announcement was "good news" and "very much needed".

Mr Campbell said the funding would allow the current fleet of four enterprise trains to be replaced by eight new trains.

He said that these trains would allow a "step up in accessibility and passenger experience", as well as reducing the journey times by "about 15 minutes".

He added that the trains would be "designed ultimately to operate as a net zero service using sustainable technology".

Mr Campbell said that the hourly service was "very much needed" as Translink expected there to be demand for two million passenger journeys on the service by 2030.

Funding is also being provided by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in Northern Ireland and the Department of Transport in the Republic of Ireland.

In February the Irish government pledged €12.5m (£10.7m) as part of the Shared Island Project, to go towards the upgrades.

Jointly operated by Northern Ireland Railways and Iarnród Éireann, the Enterprise train service has provided a transport link between Belfast and Dublin for over 75 years.

The eight new trains will reduce journey times to one hour and 55 minutes between the two cities.

The procurement process for the new train sets is expected to be completed over the next year.

They are expected to be in operation from 2029.

Designed to run on electric and battery power for part of the route, there will be the option to convert them to fully electric in future.

Northern Ireland's infrastructure minister John O'Dowd said it was an "exciting time for rail travel".

"The new fleet will pave the way for the Enterprise service to become the first electrified inter-city service on the island which will support our decarbonisation commitments."

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said the investment would "create unique and exciting opportunities" in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"We should not underestimate the impact that this infrastructure will have on the economic growth of the region, by ensuring there are the right conditions in place to thrive, prosper and be the best place in the world to invest."

Ireland's transport minister Eamon Ryan said: "This is another indication of the ambition we have to put the island of Ireland on track for a new age of rail, connecting more cities and towns and opening up quality rail service to more people."

What is Peace Plus?

The new funding scheme was launched in September 2023.

It replaced a pre-Brexit peace scheme, which had been in operation since 1995.

The scheme applies to Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland - Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

It is the successor to the Peace IV scheme, which focuses on children and young people, shared education, shared spaces and positive local relations.

Some of the best known projects include the Peace Bridge over the River Foyle and the regeneration of the Girdwood Barracks in north Belfast.

Peace Plus is funded by the UK, Ireland and the EU.

Peace Plus is being managed by the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Its chief executive Gina McIntyre said the investment would serve as a "catalyst for regeneration and economic growth for all areas along the Dublin to Belfast economic corridor".

European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira said the investment brings "concrete benefits" with better connectivity between Belfast and Dublin.

Source: BBC News (link opens in new window)