Limerick to Foynes on track for reopening as key milestone reached in project

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By Live95 News Team – Via West=on=Track

Iarnród Éireann says they are on track for the reopening of the Foynes to Limerick railway line. Work began earlier this year on restoring the freight service and last week the Taoiseach said a commuter service on the line has not been ruled out. Last week, the River Maigue bridge at Adare was lifted out for restoration and repairs – a key milestone for the project – and it is anticipated that it will be reinstated early in 2024.

Track laying will begin early next year and Iarnród Éireann say works are progressing well. Subject to funding allocation, phase two is expected to take 18 months to complete, and it’s anticipated that the route will open for freight services in 2025.

The construction strategy was to start the works in the Foynes area and then move eastwards in the direction of Limerick city. All the rail for the project and the first batch of new concrete sleepers have already been delivered to the site.

Site Clearance and removal of the existing track commenced in Spring 2023 and will be completed by the end of the year. Boundary fencing has commenced and is ongoing between Foynes Port and Adare, with large sections of palisade fencing, concrete post and wire fencing and timber post and wire fencing now complete. Works at Robertstown Viaduct have just commenced, beginning with the demolition of the existing structure. The new structure is programmed to be substantially complete by Spring 2024.

Track excavation and earthworks are underway for the new track bed and ballast together with the installation of ducting & drainage pipes along the route. It is anticipated that track laying will commence early in 2024.

Phase two of the project will include the provision of a signalling system for the route, CCTV level crossings, train communications system and track connections and upgrades at Limerick and at Foynes Port. Subject to funding allocation for phase two it is expected that this work will take 18 months to complete, and it is anticipated that the route will open for freight services in 2025.

The 42km stretch of railway between Limerick and Foynes originally opened in 1858 but closed to passenger traffic in 1963. Freight services continued until 2001. When these services stopped the line was declared inactive, but the line remained under the stewardship of Iarnród Éireann.
The project aligns with and supports Iarnród Éireann’s Rail Freight 2040 Strategy, and the recently launched strategic review of the Shannon Foynes Port Company Masterplan, Vision 2041. The reopening of the Limerick to Foynes rail line for freight services also satisfies several EU, national, regional, and local development objectives. The proposed project contributes to objectives of common interest with the EU as defined in Article 7 of the TEN-T guideline, with the following specific contributions:

• Interconnection of the modes of transport rail and ship services, promoting intermodal transport.
• Promotion of environmental protection by strengthening freight transport via rail and sea rather than road transport.
• Extension of interconnections.

Speaking this week Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive, Jim Meade said: “I am delighted to see how well work is progressing on this project. Major infrastructure upgrades such as the renovation of the Maigue bridge are key milestones for this project. I would like to commend my team, who are working on this project for their hard work and dedication and I look forward to more sustainable rail freight services once again operating on this route in 2025”