THE first sections of track to be laid on the restored Limerick to Foynes railway line arrived at the Port of Foynes over the weekend.
Jim Meade, managing director of Iarnród Éireann, was joined by Pat Keating, his counterpart from Shannon Foynes Port Company, at the port on Monday to watch the unloading of the cargo.
Construction of the first phase of the project, which will last approximately two years, is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
The 26 mile stretch of railway between Limerick and Foynes was originally opened in 1858 but closed to passenger traffic in 1963. Freight services continued until 2001 and when these services ceased the line was declared inactive but remained under Iarnród Éireann.
The project is funded by the Ministry of Transport and the first phase will see the clearing of vegetation and the removal of the existing track.
Bridges and culverts along the 42 km route will be rehabilitated or renewed and new railway and concrete sleepers will be installed along the route.
The first phase will also see the renewal of the road infrastructure at public level crossings, the renewal of crossings for housing and fencing along the lines.
The second phase of the project, which will continue for approximately 18 months, will include the supply of a signaling system, CCTV level crossings, a rail communication system and track connections and upgrades in Limerick and at Foynes Yard.
A train at Foynes in the 1980s – Photo courtesy of Barry Carse of the Irish Railway Record Society
Iarnród Éireann says the project will initially facilitate rail freight services and that further investment and upgrades will be needed to facilitate the reintroduction of passenger services to the line.
The transport company has acknowledged the cooperation and support of Shannon Foynes Port Company and Limerick City and County Council in bringing the project to the construction stage.
“Seeing the start of work to reopen the Limerick to Foynes rail line is a proud day for us at Iarnród Éireann. Our rail freight strategy is about creating connections and giving businesses more opportunities to move from road freight to more sustainable rail freight I am confident that when the line reopens, together with our colleagues at the Shannon Foynes Port Company, we will provide a reliable, frequent and above all sustainable logistics option to many businesses that will currently use and the future of the port of Foynes”, says Jim Meade.
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