Enterprise: Belfast to Dublin route needs £239 million to improve service
THE Belfast to Dublin Enterprise service needs £239 million spent on it over the next five years to help reduce journey times and improve its timetable.
Both Translink and Iarnród Éireann, who run the Enterprise, will work together to upgrade the north/south rail line, and potentially create a high speed service.
Under the new strategy, 'Better connecting Belfast and Dublin', plans include a fleet of nine new trains, costing £44 million, to allow for a more frequent hourly service.
A further £195m would allow track improvements to be made, reducing journey times by 15 minutes to under two hours.
Enacting the plan will require funding commitments on each side of the border.
About one million passengers use the Enterprise annually.
Speed restrictions on "lengthy sections" of track add 15 minutes to the travel time between Dublin and Belfast.
Eight daily departures each direction "compares poorly" with many other paired European cities, which have five times the frequency.
Through the implementation of an hourly service from Belfast to Derry, Translink experienced a 20 per cent growth of passengers.
Chief Executive of Translink Chris Conway said he expects "at least that amount" of an increase in passengers once the train runs hourly from Belfast to Dublin.
Translink chairman Frank Hewitt said: “Developing the cross-border Enterprise rail service will be essential to further strengthening economic links and is key to building competitiveness and increasing close communication links between our two capital cities."
Longer term improvements, including cutting journey times to 90 minutes, would cost an estimated £630m and involve electric trains and lines.
"The next steps are to secure funding to take this project forward," said Frank Allen, Chairman of Iarnród Éireann.