​Ireland’s new freight terminal will be the first constructed in 50 years time

Castlebar in Ireland is set to see the construction of a new multimodal rail freight terminal, marking the first such development in the country in over 50 years. The project, which is being led by Irish Rail, aims to provide a new and efficient mode of transporting goods across Ireland and beyond. The new facility will allow for the transfer of goods between different modes of transport and will also include storage facilities for both refrigerated and dry cargo.

The proposed development on the west coast would be the second such facility in County Mayo, after the established terminal at Ballina, often described as the freight central for Ireland. The development of the Castlebar rail freight terminal is part of the Irish government’s Rail Freight 2040 Strategy, which aims to increase the use of rail freight in Ireland by 2030 and double it by 2040. The strategy is designed to reduce the number of goods transported by road, which is currently the dominant mode of transport for goods in Ireland, and to help meet the country’s climate targets.

The Irish Railways (Iarnród Éireann) report and plan “Rail Freight 2040 Strategy” makes provision for new freight yards at Limerick Junction and Dublin Eastern Gateway. Collaboration with industry The Rail Freight 2040 plan includes 25 strategic initiatives with an estimated investment of 500 million euros (about 440 million pounds sterling) over the next twenty years. These investments, according to the rail administration, will transform rail freight infrastructure and enable Iarnród Éireann to better support businesses and modern supply chains. “The strategy includes a plan to develop a network of intermodal freight facilities in collaboration with the freight and logistics industry, starting with strategic terminals in Limerick and Dublin, extending over time with smaller tactical terminals in Cork, Galway and Sligo. In addition, reconnecting the Ports of Foynes and Cork to the rail network”, says IR.

The proposed multimodal rail freight terminal at Castlebar, although not on the plan, is nearby to Westport, a key location. A terminal at Castlebar has been the subject of political lobby for some time. It is expected to play a key role in achieving the transformational goals, by providing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly mode of transport for goods. The facility will allow for the consolidation of goods into larger loads, which can then be transported more efficiently by rail. This will reduce the number of trucks on the Irish roads and help to cut carbon emissions.

Rolling stock recommissioning The development of the new multimodal rail freight terminal at Castlebar will, nevertheless, be an important step towards implementing the Rail Freight 2040 Strategy. Sources within the business community in County Mayo are understood to believe it will provide a modern and efficient mode of transport for goods, and help to reduce reliance on road transport. The construction of the Castlebar rail freight terminal is set to begin in the coming months and is expected to be completed by 2025. Observers of Irish rail freight operations have noted that IR has recently begun recommissioning stored rolling stock, suitable for intermodal operations. The project has been welcomed by local businesses and community groups, who see it as a key driver of economic growth and job creation in the region.