A pilot scheme could be in place by Christmas to help the country’s commuter rail network adapt to a transition away from diesel-fired locomotives.
Key points:Co-operative transport operator Roadhouse has been working with Transport for Ireland to help train crews adapt to the switch from diesel cars to electric trains, a new report has foundThe scheme could see trains operating in areas such as Cork, Donegal, Clare and Limerick at nightSource: RoadhouseThe co-operative system would see diesel-electric trains operating at night, with the ability to run at peak times, on weekends and in times of peak demand.
The cooperatives rail operator Roadhouses has been looking into the possibility for a pilot scheme for some time and was approached by Transport for the Irish (TfI) on Wednesday.
The scheme would see trains running at night in areas like Cork, Cork County, Cork city and Cork county.
Roadhouse has worked with TfI to help with the transition, including the installation of lights, signalling and other infrastructure for the next 12 months.
The first phase of the co-operatives system is expected to see trains run from October 2016 to March 2020.
The trial would also see trains operate in areas where diesel-fuelled trains were not in place, like Dublin and Co Limerick, while the trial would continue to operate in Dublin and Cork city.
Roadhouses CEO Pat O’Neill said the cooperative trial would help traincrews adapt to switch from the diesel-driven trains to electric ones.
“I think we have got some really exciting opportunities, and we’ve been working very closely with Tfei to understand exactly what we can and can’t do with it,” he said.
“The trials are not an experiment in what we would do with the diesel trains.
We’re going to have to test it in real life.”
Roadhouse’s co-op pilot scheme is set to begin operation in February next year.
The move is expected at the end of this year and will see trains operated at peak hours.
O’Neill suggested the cooperatively system could help ease the transition to the electric trains and could help the rail network cope with the disruption caused by the transition.
“We’ll be able to run trains at a certain number of kilometres an hour which is going to be an important factor in the shift from diesel to electric,” he added.
“In terms of the safety of the trains, we’re going take them out on the tracks, and have them sit on the track and run at a specified time, so that we have a safe and smooth transition.”
Roadhouses currently operates commuter rail services in the Cork city region and Co Dublin, and is also a member of the Dublin to Dublin train network.
A similar co-operation project is also being piloted in the Co Clare area of Limerick.