Rail freight good for business and reduces CO2 emissions

Rail freight is more significant in the Western Region than anywhere else in Ireland. Three of the four rail freight services currently in operation start or finish in the Western Region and in the short-term this could double from 4 to 8 trainloads per weekday. That is according to a report published today by the Western Development Commission (WDC), ‘Rail freight and the Western Region’.

The WDC report notes that rail freight, where available offers several advantages over road transport. It generates less than a quarter of the emissions of road haulage and it can provide an alternative efficient route to market for business in the West, avoiding congested routes.

Mr. Ian Brannigan, Acting CEO WDC highlighted that “rail currently moves less than 1% of surface freight across Ireland and most of this rail freight originates in the Western Region. Irish Rail plans to quadruple national rail freight traffic within 4 years and much of this traffic could be from the Western Region. This has multiple benefits including lowering our emissions”.

This report identifies traffic which could be transported by rail and also identifies the policies needed to support this growth. While rail freight will continue to play a relatively small role compared to road transport, there is potential to grow volumes which will not only capitalise on our existing rail network but will also deliver wider public and societal benefits in terms of lower emissions and reducing traffic on the congested road network.

Paddy McGuinness, Chairman of the WDC says “The WDC welcomes this report as an important contribution to policy formulation, in the context of transport, regional development and the need to lower emissions. We welcome also the Government commitment in the recent Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan, to undertake a feasibility study to examine options for expanding rail freight and this WDC report is an important contribution. Mr. McGuinness continued, “it highlights the importance of preserving rail infrastructure in the region for future generations in line with the recent The Paris Agreement at COP21”.

Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst notes, “The availability of rail freight as a key transport mode provides the Western Region and particularly those areas near the railway network with a locational advantage for those companies who need a transport mode that is reliable, cost effective and with lower emissions. This can help attract inward investment, providing more transport choice for end users, especially those transporting high volume goods while also offering an opportunity for companies to reduce their carbon emissions”.


For further information please contact:

Ian Brannigan, WDC on 086 604 8012 or Deirdre Frost, Western Development Commission, 086 605 3317

The full report may be accessed on https://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/