The last full year has seen increases in rail freight carried on the railway network in Ireland in several areas. Intermodal freight was up with a 3% increase in container traffic whilst pulpwood traffic carried for Coillte was up producing an 8% increase.
Results for the first half of 2016 are even more encouraging with intermodal traffic already showing a 6% improvement over the same period of 2015 whilst bulk goods are 10% ahead following a slight dip in 2015 due to market forces affecting the export volumes of zinc and lead ore. In 2015, 96.4 million tonne kilometres of freight were moved by rail in Ireland. Over the last few years the rail freight sector in Ireland has produced steady growth year upon year. The carrying capacity of pulpwood and intermodal trains is expected to increase by 50% in the latter part of 2016 following successful trials with longer, heavier freight trains earlier this year and growth is expected to rise significantly. Rail routes from Dublin and Waterford ports are both cleared for conveying hi-cube containers on standard platform wagons.
Presently Iarnród Éireann are in discussion with various potential customers regarding the carrying of biomass fuel by rail – a commodity already successfully conveyed by rail in the UK. The overhaul of many previously stored flat wagons for conveying containers has already been commenced and additional sidings provided to handle the extra trains.