Minister for Transport Éamon Ryan TD today announced the commencement of the next phase of the transformation of the Cork Area Commuter Rail network, set to deliver eight new commuter rail stations across the Cobh, Midleton and Mallow lines, a new depot and the electrification of the network.

Funded by the National Transport Authority under Project Ireland 2040, Iarnród Éireann has awarded a contract to Roughan O’Donovan and TYPSA appointing them as multidisciplinary consultants for the design, planning and construction of this phase of Cork commuter rail network investment.  This includes:

  • new stations at Blackpool, Monard, Tivoli, Carrigtwohill West, Waterrock, Ballynoe, Blarney and Dunkettle
  • a new fleet maintenance depot to cater for a new electrified fleet of up to 150 carriages 
  • design development and review will take place prior to confirmation of the preferred depot location
  • electrification of the Cork Commuter network

The programme also includes the upgrade of nine existing commuter stations on the Cork network.

Added to the existing rail projects underway (see below), the programme announced today will deliver a rail network offering high frequency, high quality rail commuter services to more communities, with a network capacity of trains up to every 10 minutes on all three commuter lines – Cork to Cobh, Midleton and Mallow.  The CACR programme is central to the National Transport Authority’s Cork Metropolitan Area Transportation Strategy (CMATS) to transform the public and active transport network for the Cork area.

Iarnród Éireann with the multi-disciplinary consultants will develop the design of the stations, depot and electrification and other associated infrastructure, before applying to An Bord Pleanála for a Railway Order (equivalent of planning permission) by the end of 2025 subject to the granting of the Railway Order and funding.

Today’s announcement is in addition to the ongoing three projects in the Cork Area Commuter Rail programme which will treble the capacity for trains on Cork’s commuter network.  These existing projects are funded by the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (EURRF) and the National Transport Authority under Project Ireland 2040.  Progress to date includes:

  • new through platform at Kent Station:  Works commenced in Summer 2023 and are on target for delivery by the end of this year, an investment of €23 million
  • signalling and communications upgrade: facilitating the 10-minute frequency on all three commuter lines, this €180 million investment has seen a design and build contract awarded for the new signalling system, and civil works commenced in February 2024.  The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2026
  • Glounthaune to Midleton twin-track: A €90 million investment, a Railway Order was granted by An Bord Pleanála in October 2023.  A contract award for construction Is expected to be made in the coming months, and completed by the end of 2026

Speaking at today’s announcement, Minister for Transport Éamon Ryan TD said: “The Cork Area Commuter Rail Programme represents the largest investment in the rail network in Cork undertaken by the State. It will completely transform transport in and around the city, increasing train capacity and frequency, and connecting communities from Cobh to Midleton to Mallow along a sustainable and reliable rail spine. This is a good day for Cork and is another stepping-stone in our ambition to introduce a new age of rail, here in the Rebel County, and right across the country. With new services and increased capacity nationally, we are already seeing a real resurgence in the numbers of people choosing to use the train. This is not just good for rail users themselves but it’s also good for everyone travelling because it means less cars on our roads, and less congestion, so everyone’s a winner with rail.”

Anne Graham, Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority welcomed the announcement, saying: “Today’s announcement represents a welcome step in the process of investment in rail infrastructure in the Cork area. It also  a clear signal of intent on the part of NTA that delivering for the people of Cork by implementing the various aspects of CMATS is now a priority.”

Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Jim Meade said: We are seeing record demand across our Cork commuter rail network, and we look forward to working with our consultants, and the NTA, EURRF and Department of Transport to deliver a network that will facilitate millions more sustainable journeys for the people of Cork and those visiting every year.”

ROD/TYPSA JV Project Director, Stephen Russell, said of the contract award: “ROD and TYPSA are privileged to be part of the Cork Area Commuter Rail Programme and to contribute to the delivery of a sustainable public transport network in the Cork region. We look forward to working closely with Iarnród Éireann and the NTA to bring this ambitious project to fruition.”