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Iarnród Éireann and XPO Logistics have formally launched a regular rail freight service between Ballina and Waterford, with a ceremony at the port of Waterford on September 29.
The launch follows the operation of test trains on the route last year, at which time it was hoped that revenue services could begin before the end of 2020.
Initially operating on a weekly basis, the container train is expected to become twice-weekly by the end of November. It is forecast to remove more than 5 000 lorry movements a year from the country’s roads, offering a 75% saving in greenhouse gas emissions. Offering an end-to-end service, XPO books the rail movements and provides drayage trucking of the containers, as well as services such as cross-docking.
Welcoming the re-introduction of rail freight to the port’s Belview terminal, Port of Waterford Chief Executive Frank Ronan said the container trains would ‘work very effectively with the port’s Lo-Lo shipping services to provide businesses in Ireland’s west and northwest with a compelling logistics solution to and from mainland Europe’, avoiding road and port congestion around Dublin.
XPO Logistics’ Managing Director, Transport, for the UK & Ireland Dan Myers described the collaborative venture with IÉ as ‘a double win. Our customers have new, eco-friendly transport options, and our planet wins as supply chains become greener. It’s another step in our collective journey to a carbon-neutral future.’
Rail freight strategyThe Ballina – Waterford trains augment IÉ’s existing rail freight operations, which include container traffic from Ballina to Dublin, pulpwood from Ballina and Westport to Waterford and zinc ore from Tara Mines in Navan to Dublin.
IÉ is currently finalising a national rail freight strategy, aiming to expand its freight operations significantly. It is working with existing and potential customers, freight forwarders, ports and the Irish Exporters Association to identify opportunities and development trends within the Irish and European market.
‘We are entering a very exciting phase where rail can offer key solutions for the movement of freight as the country addresses both environmental and congestion challenges in this sector’, explained IÉ Chief Executive Jim Meade. ‘We are currently finalising a very ambitious strategic plan for the growth of rail freight between key locations across the country. Today’s announcement with XPO and Waterford Port demonstrates the viable opportunities that can be developed that will not just support industry and the logistics sector, but are also fully aligned with the country’s climate action plan.’
‘Ireland’s freight, logistics and distribution transport sector plays a critical role in our economy’, confirmed Minister of State for Transport & Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton. ‘ Our supply chains are resilient and by adding new rail transport offerings to industry, we can continue to support local communities and in turn, our climate objectives. This new service will sustainably connect businesses in the West of Ireland to the Port of Waterford and onwards to export markets.’
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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