Castlebar, County Mayo is to be the site for the first new Iarnród Éireann / Irish Rail multimodal freight yard in almost five decades. The announcement, made by Glenn Carr, Director Commercial Business Units, Iarnród Éireann, advises that the West of Ireland town was the preferred location for the facility as there are major multinationals nearby which employ many people.

The announcement follows lobbying for a new freight site in the town by politician Senator Paddy Burke in July 2022. The Senator said that he considered Castlebar was ideal for a new site due to manufacturers such as Baxter Healthcare, Meissner and other industries being located in the vicinity.

Presently, the nearest multimodal rail freight terminal is around 23 miles away and transferring containers by road from Castlebar to Ballina adds time and cost to the supply chain. Ballina has a thriving freight terminal that handles multimodal trains for Dublin based IWT and XPO Logistics and also pulpwood trains for Coillte, the Irish forestry company. Pulpwood is also handled at Westport in County Mayo.

Making the announcement, Mr Carr stated that the rail company are currently working on the design. He noted that industries in the County of Mayo are keen to move from road to rail to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Transport commentator Tim Casterton conjectured that the announcement was very timely as Iarnród Éireann has recently commenced overhaul of a stored fleet of air braked containers wagons as a contingency in the event of additional freight business being won ahead of an order for a new wagon fleet that is currently being procured. Irish Rail published it’s ‘Rail Freight 2040 Strategy’ at the end of 2021 and that proposes new tactical freight sites in Cork, Galway and Sligo, new freight yards at Limerick Junction and Dublin Eastern Gateway and a new connection to Port of Cork at Marino Point. Work is already underway to re-open the disused railway from Limerick to Foynes Port for freight. Ironically, there was no mention of Castlebar in the freight strategy so it is a welcomed addition.

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