Dublin-Cork to take just two hours on 200kmh train
HIGH-SPEED trains travelling at 200kmh will cut the Dublin-Cork journey to just two hours.
Passengers can look forward to at least 30 minutes being slashed from the trip.
CIE chairman, John Lynch, last week ordered Iarnrod Eireann chiefs to activate the radical plan.
A €117m fleet of new trains will come into service on the Dublin-Cork route in coming weeks, clearing the way for an hourly service in each direction by the end of the year.
Some 100 miles of track is being replaced for the project.
The current maximum speeds on the route are 160kmh with a best journey time of two hours 30 minutes.
The plan involves significant changes to the infrastructure and to the powering of trains on the route.
Under the scheme, traditional locomotive-hauling, which will operate the new fleet this year, would be upgraded to twin lightweight power cars, operating at either end of the train.
This technology has recently been adopted by some rail operators in the UK and elsewhere, with notable success.
Not only would twin power cars deliver a boost to speed and journey time, but reliability would also improve dramatically.
To facilitate the increased speeds envisaged, a number of infrastructure initiatives are involved.
Iarnrod Eireann proposes to make a number of improvements to the line, including:
* Track renewal of 100 miles of track.
* Elimination of a number of level crossings.
* Realignment of certain sections of curved track.
* Renewal of signalling and train protection systems.
Currently, 160kph operation covers approximately 25pc of the Dublin-Cork route.
The infrastructure plans would see 200kmh adopted in the link between Clondalkin, Co Dublin and Limerick Junction, over 62pc of the route distance.
Barry Kenny, Iarnrod Eireann spokesperson, said yesterday: "The Cork-Dublin route is our flagship Intercity route, with almost 4,000,000 passenger journeys annually today."
He added: "Improving speeds is the next target, to extend still further our speed advantage over road transport."
Mr Kenny told the Irish Independent that no other mode of transport would rival the new project.
"A two-hour city centre to city centre journey time would simply be impossible for any other transport mode in this country to even come close to matching," he said.
Detailed feasibility work is to be undertaken this year to establish likely costs and timescales for the plan.