Passengers in Ireland have given a big thumbs up to Irish Rail as it clipped a neat 15 minutes off the journey time from Cork to Dublin.
The introduction of a new non-stop service on 25 May further boosts line speed on the main intercity route. The train, running on Mondays to Friday with a 6.15 departure from Cork, arrives at Dublin Heuston station at 8.30, enabling business travellers to make 9.00 meetings in the capital.
The service was introduced following consultation with businesses in Cork which highlighted the requirement for a fast service to Dublin. Initially
the train will be formed of a three-car InterCity Railcar (22000 class) set.
In recent months extensive engineering works have been taking place over the 50 miles of main line between Hazelhatch, Co Kildare and Portlaoise to remove speed restrictions and allow increased speeds.
The €10 million track improvements project involves ballast renewal, drainage works to the formation and track alignment improvements. The first phase of works included an impressive 80,000 tonnes of ballast being laid over weekend possessions.
A second phase will include bridge and level crossing works to help cut further minutes off the end-to-end journey. Further journey time improvements are planned during 2016, with Iarnród Éireann looking to bring the fastest journey times between Cork and Dublin down to two hours for the 1651⁄4 mile journey.
The increase of line speeds from the current 140 km/h to 160 km/h will permit journey times to and from other destinations to the west and Limerick to be reduced by around eight minutes.
Last year, the Iarnród Éireann Intercity sector recorded an increase in journeys nationally of 3.7 per cent with a total of 8.4 million being made in the year. This welcomed growth has continued during the first quarter of 2015, helped by keen marketing.
The new Cork – Dublin service and proposed faster journey times are aimed at tempting more customers back from the roads where motorways built in recent years have provided considerable competition for the rail network.
Report by Tim Casterton