At the launch of the new XPO Logistics rail freight service in Waterford Belview Port last week, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan spoke of the new rail service being “a climate friendly option connecting enterprises from the West to the Southeast of the country and onwards to export markets.”
The launch, a highly positive event, noted that the service has the potential to allow over 5,000 truck movements a year to switch from road to rail, reducing traffic congestion on the roads and intermediate towns and reducing emissions by around 75% per unit. Initially, there will be one return service per week between the rail connected Belview container handling terminal and Ballina rail freight yard in Mayo. It is hoped to build this up to two return services per week in the near future. The new service was originally scheduled to commence operations in June, but had been put back until 29 September.
Green Party Leader and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD is keen to see carbon emissions in Ireland reduced. He said: “The way we choose to connect communities and businesses will be critically important as we look to halve our emissions by 2030. Rail and other sustainable solutions will play an important role on our journey to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This new freight service offers a climate friendly option connecting enterprises from the West to the Southeast of the country and onwards to export markets.”
Commenting on the investment and initiative Dan Myers, Managing Director, XPO Logistics UK & Ireland, said: “Climate change is a critical global challenge; the solutions will take a concerted effort, coordinated action and cooperation. Our collaborative, end-to-end service with Irish Rail, where XPO provides the booking of rail freight movements, drayage trucking of containers, and services such as cross-docking, is a double win. Our customers have new, eco-friendly transport options, and our planet wins as supply chains become greener. It’s another step in our collective journey to a carbon-neutral future.”
Frank Ronan, CEO of Port of Waterford added: “Port of Waterford welcomes the reintroduction of rail freight services to the Port at Belview. These trains, carrying container freight, will work very effectively with the Port’s Lo-Lo shipping services to provide businesses in Ireland’s West/North West with a compelling logistics solution to and from mainland Europe.
The excellent carbon emissions reductions we will achieve on this freight plus the alleviation of road and port congestion in Dublin make this a very worthwhile initiative. We wish XPO Logistics every success with this venture and look forward to working with them.”
Iarnród Éireann is presently finalising a new national rail freight strategy, looking to identify growth and investment opportunities and increase rail freight operations nationally. The company tendered for consultants to prepare specifications for up to 300 new rail container wagons in April. Irish Rail CEO Jim Meade, said: “We are currently finalising a very ambitious strategic plan for the growth of rail freight between key locations across the country. This announcement with XPO and Waterford Port demonstrates the viable opportunities that can be developed that will not just support industry and the logistics sector, but is also fully aligned with the country’s climate action plan.”
At present the Ballina inland port freight yard in Mayo is the hub for much of Ireland’s rail freight with XPO Logistics being the third customer to choose to operate from the site; others being Coillte transportingpulpwood to Waterford and IWT with container trains to Dublin Port. The Transport Minister is keen to see the rail connection to Foynes Port, located on the Shannon Estuary, re-opened again and the feasibility is presently being examined. Tim Casterton