Iarnród Eireann and XPO Logistics, a leading global provider of transport and logistics solutions, has announced the commencement of a new twice-weekly rail freight service in each direction between Ballina, Co Mayo and Waterford Port.
The new rail service – which begins from the end of June - will offer Irish industry a greener and more efficient mode of transporting freight between the West and Southeast of the country. It will see the potential for over 5,000 truck movements a year to switch from road to rail, with a resulting reduction in road congestion, and 75 per cent reduction in emissions per unit.
The new service comes as Iarnród Éireann is finalising a new national rail freight strategy to identify growth and investment opportunities to significantly grow rail freight operations.
Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has welcomed the announcement saying: "This is great news for Ballina Station and its longterm viability,” said Deputy Calleary.
"In recent meetings with Iarnroid Eireann I have advocated the potential of the station for increased freight services particularly with Waterford Port and I am delighted that this new service is to commence in June. It will see the potential for over 5,000 truck movements a year to switch from road to rail, with a resulting reduction in road congestion, and 75% reduction in emissions per unit.
"It also adds another dimension for companies and businesses, both existing and those thinking of relocating to Mayo and adds greatly to the attractiveness of the county for any such potential employers. I want to congratulate all involved in this initiative not least the wonderful staff of Ballina Station."
Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Jim Meade said: "We are entering a very exciting phase where rail freight can offer key solutions for the movement of freight as the country addresses both environmental and congestion challenges in this sector.
"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."
Dan Myers, managing director, transport – UK and Ireland, XPO Logistics, said: |We take environmental protection seriously at XPO. So we are pleased to work in partnership with Irish Rail in delivering an intermodal solution, with the flexibility of loading and unloading goods in a drop-trailer setting. Our goal is always to manage supply chain activities as efficiently as possible whilst helping our customers lower their carbon footprint.
Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD 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 ,and we look forward to growing our rail freight operations soon."
The new rail freight service between Ballina and Waterford is in addition to existing rail freight operations, which include: (1 ) Container traffic from Ballina to Dublin Port, (2 ) Pulpwood from Ballina and Westport to Waterford Port and (3 ) Zinc ore from Tara Mines in Navan to Dublin Port.