Significant milestone marked in Limerick to Foynes rail reopening

Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann, Jim Meade, Cllr Daniel Butler, Brian Leddin TD, Cllr Emmet O'Brien, Pat Keating CEO Shannon Foynes Port Company, Fiona Malone, Resident Engineer, Cllr Sasa Novak, Maurice Quinlivan TD and Joanne Collins at Askeaton to mark the commencement of track laying on the Foynes to Limerick Freight line. Photo: Eamon Ward

A FRESH milestone has been reached in the recommissioning of the Limerick to Foynes rail line.

Iarnród Éireann laid the first tracks on the Limerick to Foynes line that will soon reopen to freight trains, the official first step in the reopening of the route for passenger travel.

Contractor Sisk and subcontractor Steconefer have started work on behalf of Iarnród Éireann to lay new concrete sleepers and rail lines.

The track laying has started near Askeaton and it is expected that all the tracks will be laid on the route by the end of 2024.

Phase two of the recommissioning of the line will see a signalling system put in place, as well as CCTV level crossings, a train communications system, and track connections upgrades.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Iarnród Éireann chief executive Jim Meade said that the progress is a significant milestone on the project.

“I am delighted to see how well work is progressing on the Foynes to Limerick Freight line. The commencement of track laying is a key milestone for the project, I look forward to more sustainable rail freight services once again operating on this route in 2026, benefiting the environment, the economy and businesses availing of the service,” Mr Meade said.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that the project “marks a major milestone in reestablishing a rail link with one of our key ports, as recommended in the National Development Plan.”

Minister Ryan added that “it is also a significant first step in realising our overall aim to build and re-open rail for freight, and passengers, across the country”.

“Re-opening the Limerick to Foynes line for the operation of rail freight services will play a vital role in promoting the shift from road to rail freight and will support us in meeting our decarbonisation goals.”

The Limerick to Foynes rail line first opened in 1858, but closed to passenger rail in 1963. Freight services on the line continued until 2001, but after freight services stopped, the line was declared inactive.

It is expected that the line will reopen to freight rail services in early 2026.