Big step forward on Foynes-Limerick rail link

Irish Rail has, since Monday, begun seeking expressions of interests from contractors for the rebuild of the 42-kilometre line between Foynes Port and Colbert Station in the city. Closing date for tenders is September 2nd.
It’s anticipated that a contractor will be announced before the end of the year, with works – likely to be of 18 months duration – to begin early in 2023, with a re-opening date of Summer/Autumn of the following year (2024). Any works would include the replacement of some parts of the actual line, and upgrades at multiple crossings.
Limerick Green Party TD Brian Leddin explained to the Weekly Observer, “it is just the first in a series of rail infrastructure projects as we seek to expand rail in the mid-west. We are going to build this line out to Foynes, with new stations at Foynes, Askeaton, Rathkeale, Adare, Patrickswell and Dooradoyle. We also want to build a rail link to Shannon Airport, and others around the Limerick Metropolitan Area as well.”
A previous costing of the Foynes-Limerick project was upwards on €50 million.
The Limerick-Foynes line was opened in April 1858 by the Great Southern and Western Railway. Passenger traffic ended in 1963 with freight trains no longer using the line after 2000.
In a tender document, Irish Rail has detailed what would be involved. The proposed construction contract, the company says, will include earthworks, the installation of sleepers and rail – supplied by Irish Rail – and also the maintenance and renewal of bridges, culverts, fencing and the road infrastructure at public road level crossings. A contractor will be asked to clear vegetation, and the removal of existing track, a new ballast-bed will be needed, while bridges along the route will need to be made safe.
There are 13 level crossings along the route which will need to be renewed, as will boundary fencing and drainage, plus the installation of service routes for future line signalling, telecoms infrastructure and level-crossing automation.
Limerick native and UK Rail Industry expert Hassard Stacpoole tweeted: “It’s a vindication on the part of many, including myself, over the last 20 years that it should never have fallen into disuse in the first place, and its reopening is most welcome.”
Commented Independent Councillor Emmett O’Brien: “There is a move nationally away from car to public transport, and on our doorstep is this important piece of infrastructure that starts from Limerick and stretches all the way back to Foynes. Also, with the Ryder Cup fast approaching (2027), it’s important to have a proper rail network in place, from Shannon Airport to Adare, and beyond.
“It’s rail/bus/public transport the way to go”.