Irish Rail to cut more than 70,000 tonnes of carbon

State company to cut reliance on diesel and shift to electric trains

Irish Rail will reduce reliance on diesel and shift to electric trains in an attempt to slash greenhouse gas emissions by more than 71,000 tonnes a year, the State rail company said on Monday.

The company produces 144,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, about 1 per cent of total national transport emissions.

It plans to halve this by reducing its reliance on diesel, by switching locomotives to alternative fuels and using more electric-powered trains, generating green energy and buying it directly from suppliers, and fleet and building work designed to cut energy use.


Irish Rail pledged to do this while increasing services, boosting passenger journeys to 80 million a year, from a pre-Covid high of 50.1 million, and doubling the amount of freight it carries.


Rail has always been the most sustainable form of land transport, according to chief executive Jim Meade. “And now we have the opportunity to, and the commitment to, enhance this further,” he added.

“Our investment programme, funded by the National Transport Authority under the National Development Plan is critical, with European funding also supporting our Cork Area Commuter Rail plan,” he said.

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Irish Rail announced its plans as State airports company DAA also pledged to cut diesel consumption in an effort to reduce its emissions.

DAA said logistics company Exolum would refit the fuel supply station at Dublin Airport to provide hydrotreated vegetable oil to power the trucks that supply fuel to aircraft on the airfield.


The switch means that the trucks will use 300,000 fewer litres of diesel annually, cutting about 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, “bringing Dublin Airport one step closer to its goal of net zero emissions by 2050″, said DAA group head of sustainability Andrea Carroll.

Hydrotreated vegetable oil is made from plant waste, oils and fats, giving it up to 90 per cent less emissions than diesel. Electric versions of the trucks that supply fuel to aircraft are not readily available.

Diego Abajo, Exolum’s Dublin Airport manager, said the project was a “great example” of two companies collaborating to hit sustainability goals.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas