Sunday 4 September 2011

Proposed €175m rail upgrade would allow for European-like travel times

IARNRÓD ÉIREANN’s proposed investment of €175 million in improving travel times would deliver services comparable with the best “conventional” rail services in Europe, the company said yesterday.

Its proposed upgrade would allow travel times similar or better then those provided by conventional trains in many European states, the company said.

It said speeds of 160km/h achieved by an upgraded railway in Ireland could deliver journey times of under two hours for services from Dublin to each of the regional cities of Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

As reported in The Irish Times yesterday, the company is planning improved services to combat competition from the State’s new motorway network. Travel times of under two hours would be better or at least similar to services in a range of European countries including Britain, Italy and Sweden among others.

Iarnród Éireann spokesman Barry Kenny said Sheffield to London is about the same distance as Dublin to Cork and trains on the British route currently deliver journey times of between two hours and six minutes and two hours and 40 minutes depending on the number of stops.

Mr Kenny said journey times between Milan and Venice, again a similar distance to Dublin to Cork, ranged between two hours and 20 minutes and three hours and 40 minutes.

In a further example, he said Swedish trains between Stockholm and Söderhamn – again a comparable distance – made the journey at two hours four minutes.

“The investment in Iarnród Éireann would not put us in the high-speed rail class like the TGV but it would place us among the best of conventional railways among the EU 15,” he said.

In Europe, high-speed rail offers average speeds of about 200km/h on a select number of lines.

These include the Eurostar between London and Paris or Brussels; Euromed which links Barcelona to Alicante, and Eurostar Italia which links most Italian urban centres.

Also included in the high-speed category are the Ice trains linking cities in Germany with those in Switzerland and Austria; the Talgo between Madrid, Malaga and Barcelona; the TGV between major French cities, Switzerland and Brussels, and the Thalys between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne. The X2000 links major cities in northern Europe.

The official world record for such high-speed rail trains is held by the TGV. A TGV broke the world record, reaching 574.8km/h under test conditions in 2007.

In Japan, Shinkansen lines run at speeds of up to 300 km/h and China high-speed conventional (non-magnetic) rail lines currently holds the world’s fastest commercial top speed of 350 km/h.

However, a further class of new trains which operate on a magnetic-levitation track offer super fast speeds.

The world record for this category of trains is held by the experimental Japanese JR-Maglev, which has reached 581 km/h on a magnetic-levitation track.

Irish Times

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