€65 million contract signed for Limerick to Foynes freight rail service

Iarnród Éireann chief executive Jim Meade (left) with John Sisk chief executive Paul Brown.

IARNRÓD Éireann has awarded a €65 million contract to John Sisk and Son for the first phase of the reinstatement of the Limerick to Foynes rail line for freight services, with work set to commence in early February.

Funded by the Department of Transport,  the project will focus on track and track bed works, vegetation clearance, fencing and works at bridges, level crossings and public road crossings.

The 42km railway line between Limerick and Foynes originally opened in 1858 but closed to passenger traffic in 1963. Freight services continued until 2001.

The line’s reinstatement is a key element of Iarnród Éireann’s Rail Freight 2040 Strategy to increase the levels of freight on the national rail network.

With vegetation clearance already underway, the major physical works are scheduled for completion by late 2024.

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Phase two of the project will include provision of a signalling system for the route, CCTV level crossings, train communications system and track connections and upgrades at Limerick and in Foynes Yard.

Subject to funding allocation for this phase of the project, it is anticipated that the route will open for freight services in 2025.

Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Jim Meade said there is real momentum behind the Foynes line reinstatement project.

“With Exchequer funding confirmed in November, we are delighted to be able to announce the contract award to Sisk just weeks later.  We look forward to bringing this critical, sustainable infrastructure to fruition, as we contribute to the decarbonisation goals for transport in Ireland.

John Risk & Son chief executive Paul Brown said that bringing the Limerick/Foynes freight line back into service is part of Iarnród Éireann’s Rail Freight 2040 Strategy, and the strategic review of the Shannon Foynes Port Company Masterplan, Vision 2041.

“It will bring back the connection between rail and ship services and promote sustainable transport by strengthening freight transport via rail and sea. We look forward to delivering this project in partnership with Iarnród Éireann and our supply chain partners,” Mr Brown added.