10 Years of IWT Intermodal trains in Ireland
On 19 August 2008 IWT (Dublin based ‘International Warehousing and Transport’) commenced their rail operation between Dublin Port and Ballina in County Mayo with just two return trains per week. Loading in Dublin took place at the port on the Alexandra Road tramway. The anchor customer then was the international soft drinks factory based in Ballina – and that remains the case 10 years on.
Now, with a purpose built quayside terminal which opened in May 2011 for loading and unloading the trains inside the Dublin Port complex, services have increased to up to nine trains each way per week depending on customer requirements. Train numbers have increased due to several reasons, primarily though due to the steadily increasing costs of road haulage making rail more cost effective. Fuel price rises and HGV driver wages over the last 12 – 18 months have resulted in more freight being transferred to rail, the mode being less susceptible to the increases in fuel prices. Ironically, increased road traffic at Dublin Port has resulted in queues for terminals and increased congestion by HGVs. Transferring more freight to rail has helped to alleviate the traffic congestion around the port and reducing the terminal queueing times.
With 2673 trains operated since the services started, the IWT intermodal have helped to reduce HGV movements on the roads between Dublin and the West of Ireland. Over the 10 years it is estimated that some 48,000 HGV journeys have been saved – and an equivalent reduction in carbon emissions made due to the lower carbon footprint of rail transport. The customer base has also expanded with other commodities being conveyed regularly including medical supplies. Loading of trains from Dublin Port averages 99% of space used. Ballina rail freight terminal is now used as the railhead for the West and North West of Ireland. IWT purchased land adjacent to the freight yard in 2012 for use as a storage facility and now make regular deliveries to Westport, Letterkennny, Tuam and Castlebar. The storage yard is used to ‘buffer stock’ allowing customers to store product close to production facilities thereby reducing lead time and eliminating costly storage charges at Dublin Port.
Iarnród Éireann / Irish Rail have been running trials to enable longer services to be operated and a 17% increase in train loading is expected to be permitted in the near future. With rail traffic carried by IWT increasing by 5% year on year, the future looks bright for this intermodal operation.
IWT was founded in 1981 and is a wholly Irish owned company with offices in Dublin and Rotterdam. In 2003 the then directors successfully launched a management buyout and have operated successfully since then.