IRISH Rail (IÉ) and Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) have launched a call for tender to supply a new fleet of eight trains to replace the diesel-hauled fleet of coaches that currently operate the cross-border Enterprise service between Dublin and Belfast.

IÉ and NIR intend to enter into an eight-year framework agreement, and the procurement process will also include a maintenance contract covering technical support services and supply of spare parts over a term of up to 15 years. The estimated total value is €650m.

The new trainsets will be a maximum of 200m in length. IÉ and NIR plan to have the entire fleet in service in 2028-29, in order to operate an hourly service between Dublin and Belfast and deliver an end-to-end journey time of under 2 hours or better on existing 1600mm-gauge infrastructure.

The tender notice says that initial traction power will be a combination of internal combustion and battery electric, the latter drawing power at 1.5kV dc from overhead electrification that is being extended northwards from Dublin to Drogheda.

The new trains will be designed to transition to net-zero operation during their working life. This will involve removing the diesel power plant and power generation equipment and replacing it with traction equipment for dual-voltage overhead supply.

Requests to participate in the tender must be submitted by November 6.

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