New Mayo-Dublin rail freight route is a vote of confidence in rail and in businesses in the West Western Development Commission

New service will remove 2,000 freight trucks off the road

The Chief Executive of the Western Development Commission (WDC), Lisa McAllister has said that the new rail freight service from Ballina in Co. Mayo to Dublin Port demonstrates the economic viability of rail freight and highlights the many dynamic exportled industries in Mayo. The new service which will facilitate exports was introduced on August 19th and will initially run twice weekly between Dublin Port and Ballina. It is scheduled to increase to a daily service within six months.

Ms. McAllister said, “This is a major development towards reducing carbon footprint as all of the container equipment will be utilised on a ‘roundtrip’ basis, thereby removing both full and empty freight traffic from the Irish road network. Estimates indicate that the service will save up to 5.5 million road kilometres every year and will reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 2,750 tonnes.”

She said that statistics show that rail is also a safer mode of freight transport than road, and that initial volumes will see close to 2,000 truck movements between Dublin and Ballina removed from the roads annually.

Ms. Mc Allister said that the WDC was very pleased about the new rail freight service which will help the export-led growth which the country needs to get out of the downturn. The new service is a turnaround for rail freight traffic from the West, taking heavy goods vehicles off a congested road network.

As well as marking a return of container trains to Dublin Port, the new service also strengthens Ballina’s status as a major rail freight hub. The new service is in addition to the current Ballina to Waterford Port service (which goes via the Great Dublin Area) transporting pulpwood for Coillte from Ballina to Waterford.

The WDC has continually called for a reexamination of the opportunities for more rail freight, recognising its superior environmental record and superior safety record. Ms. Mc Allister said, “While Ireland, as a small island, is likely to have less potential for significant growth in rail freight, there is still scope to increase its modal share, thereby removing large volumes of trucks from the congested network (or minor roads) and utilising the rail network thereby generating revenue for Iarnród Éireann. Indeed it is likely that European policy will increasingly require us to examine options to promote rail freight.”

The WDC congratulated all those involved in working to explore rail freight options, particularly the Irish Exporters Association who facilitated the introduction of the new route.

Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst at the WDC added, “Since the WDC was founded we have recognised that there is potential for more freight to be carried on our rail network. This type of new service shows that there is demand in the western region which will help further build the productive capacity of the region and allow the region to contribute to national economic growth. Our work has included submissions to the Strategic Rail Review and participation in the Expert Working Group on the Western Rail Corridor.”

Ends

See www.wdc.ie for copies of various submissions made by the WDC on rail freight.

For further information please contact:

Angela Bane, Bane Mullarkey, 087 286 5217