The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD today announced a new €1 billion, 5-year investment programme in Ireland’s heavy rail infrastructure.
The funding, up 40% on the previous investment programme, will benefit passengers across the rail network through increased service reliability and punctuality, improved journey times and ensuring continued safety of rail services.
The Government approved money is being provided through the Infrastructure Manager Multi-Annual Contract, or IMMAC, which will be entered into by the Minister and Iarnród Éireann for the period 2020 to 2024.
The investment will be made in rail civil engineering programmes, including track relaying, signalling improvements and safety related initiatives.
Minister Ross stated: “This is a significant step forward in terms of funding the rail network. The Exchequer funding that is committed over the next five years represents an almost 40% increase on the level of funding provided between 2014 and 2018. This level of investment means that the rail network is now being funded at the ‘steady state’ level required to ensure optimal maintenance, renewal and improvement of our rail infrastructure.”
The Iarnród Éireann Infrastructure network currently extends to approximately 2,400 km of operational track, 4,440 bridges, 1,100 point ends, 970 level crossings, 144 stations, over 3,300 cuttings and embankments, 372 platforms and 13 tunnels. The network includes main line, Dublin suburban and commuter passenger routes, together with freight-only routes.
Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Jim Meade said: “The very welcome agreement of the contract for 2020 to 2024 enables our Infrastructure team to continue to maintain and enhance the safe provision of our physical network over this five-year period. We thank the Minister and his officials for their ongoing commitment to the sustainable funding of the national asset which our rail network represents. We are also grateful for the contribution of the CRR who, together with Department officials engaged in reviewing previous contracts to inform the future works programme and key indicators for monitoring.”
Funding provided under the IMMAC investment programme is separate to funding provided for other rail related projects such as the recently approved National Train Control Centre and the expansion of the Greater Dublin Area Commuter Rail Fleet and is also separate to the planned investment under the DART Expansion Programme.
Delivery of the investment programme is monitored by the independent monitoring body, the Commission for Rail Regulation, as set out in the European Union (Regulation of Railways) Regulations 2015.
In preparing IMMAC 2020 to 2024, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport led a review of the last IMMAC contractual period and a report of that review is available to view on www.dttas.gov.ie.
Funding for IMMAC 2020 to 2024 will be provided under allocations made available under Project Ireland 2040 and delivery of the investment programme aligns with ‘National Strategic Outcome 2: Enhanced Regional Accessibility’ and ‘National Strategic Outcome 4: Sustainable Mobility’.
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Note for Editors
The Infrastructure Manager Multi-Annual Contract (IMMAC) provides the funding framework for the maintenance, renewal and improvement of the rail network and is based on EU and Irish legislative requirements.
The IMMAC does not include funding for the provision of railway services on railway infrastructure; these are funded through the separate Public Service Obligation programme administered through the National Transport Authority. The IMMAC also does not include funding provided separately for specific infrastructure improvements, such as the National Train Control Centre or the DART Expansion Programme.
In accordance with EU and Irish legislation, the rail network is funded principally through the Exchequer grants made available under the IMMAC with a much lower contribution (known as access charges) made by those railway undertakings that make use of the infrastructure on an annual basis.
The IMMAC sets out a performance monitoring system against which the performance of Iarnród Éireann is monitored and reported upon by the independent monitoring body – the Commission for Rail Regulation.
In reviewing IMMAC 2014 to 2018 a Review Group, led by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, made a number of recommendations designed to further strengthen the governance and oversight of performance and these have been incorporated within IMMAC 2020 to 2024. A copy of the Review Group’s comprehensive report is available to view on www.dttas.gov.ie