At Port of Waterford Port this week, Iarnród Eireann and XPO Logistics, a leading global provider of freight transportation solutions, launched a new rail freight service in each direction between Ballina and Waterford.
The new rail service began weekly operations this week on Tuesday, building to twice-weekly within eight weeks. It 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% 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.
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. Today's 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 – UK and Ireland, XPO Logistics, 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."
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."
Iarnród Éireann is continuing to work with existing and potential new customers and Freight Forwarders, Ports and the Irish Exporters Association to identify opportunities and trends for rail freight development within the Irish and European market.