Transport in Ireland

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Life in Ireland

Most of the transport system in Ireland is in public hands, either side of the Irish border. The Irish road network has evolved separately in the two jurisdictions Ireland is divided up into, while the Irish rail network was mostly created prior to the partition of Ireland.

In the Republic of Ireland, the Minister for Transport, acting through the Department of Transport, is responsible for the State's road network, rail network, public transport, airports and several other areas. Although some sections of road have been built using private or public-private funds, and are operated as toll roads, they are owned by the Government of Ireland. The rail network is also state-owned and operated, while the government currently still owns the main airports. Public transport is mainly in the hands of a statutory corporation, Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), and its subsidiaries, Bus Átha Cliath (Dublin Bus), Bus Éireann (Irish Bus), and Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail).

On 1 November 2005, the Irish government published the Transport 21 plan which includes €18bn for improved roads and €16bn for improved rail, including the Western Railway Corridor and the Dublin Metro.

In Northern Ireland, the road network and railways are in state ownership. The Department for Regional Development is responsible for these and other areas (such as water services). Two of the three main airports in Northern Ireland are privately operated and owned. The exception is City of Derry Airport, which is owned and funded by Derry City Council. A statutory corporation, the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (which trades as Translink) operates public transport services through its three subsidiaries - NI Railways Company Limited, Ulsterbus Limited, and Citybus Limited (now branded as Metro).

Railways[edit]

Total
Ireland's rail network
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) broad gauge
1,947 km (1,210 mi) (1998); 38 km (24 mi) electrified; 485 km (301 mi) double track; some additions and removals since 1997
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
28 km (17 mi) (2004) (Luas tramway); 28 km (17 mi) electrified; 28 km (17 mi) double track; additional track under construction
914 mm (3 ft) narrow gauge
1,365 km (848 mi) (2006) (industrial railway operated by Bord na Móna)

Ireland's railways are in State ownership, with Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) operating services in the Republic and NI Railways operating services in Northern Ireland. The two companies co-operate in providing the joint Enterprise service between Dublin and Belfast. InterCity services are provided between Dublin and the major towns and cities of the Republic, and in Ulster along the Belfast–Derry railway line. Suburban railway networks operate in Dublin, Dublin Suburban Rail, and Belfast, Belfast Suburban Rail, with limited local services being offered in, or planned for, Cork, Limerick[citation needed], and Galway[citation needed].

The rail network in Ireland was developed by various private companies during the 19th century, with some receiving government funding. The network reached its greatest extent by 1920. A broad gauge of 1600mm (5 ft 3in)[1] was agreed as the standard for the island, although there were also hundreds of kilometres of 914mm (3 ft) narrow gauge railways.[1]

Many lines in the west were decommissioned in the 1930s under Éamon de Valera, with a further large cull in services by both CIÉ and the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) during the 1960s, leaving few working lines in the northern third of the island. There is a campaign to bring some closed lines back into service, in particular the Limerick-Sligo line (the Western Railway Corridor), to facilitate economic regeneration in the west, which has lagged behind the rest of the country. There is also a move to restore service on the Dublin to Navan line, and smaller campaigns to re-establish the rail links between Sligo and Enniskillen/Omagh/Derry and Mullingar and Athlone/Galway. Under the Irish government's Transport 21 plan, the Cork to Midleton rail link was reopened in 2009. The re-opening of the Navan-Clonsilla rail link and the Western Rail Corridor are amongst future projects as part of the same plan.[2]

Public transport services in Northern Ireland are sparse in comparison with those of the rest of Ireland or Great Britain. A large railway network was severely curtailed in the 1950s and 1960s.[3] Current services includes suburban routes to Larne, Newry and Bangor, as well as services to Derry. There is also a branch from Coleraine to Portrush.[4]

Since 1984 an electrically operated train service run by Iarnród Éireann has linked Dublin with its coastal suburbs. Running initially between Bray and Howth, the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) system was extended from Bray to Greystones in 2000 and further extended from Howth Junction to Malahide. In 2004 a light rail system, Luas, was opened in Dublin serving the central and western suburbs, run by Veolia under franchise from the Railway Procurement Agency. The construction of the Luas system caused much disruption in Dublin. Plans to construct a Dublin Metro service including underground lines were mooted in 2001, but stalled in the financial crisis at the end of that decade.

Ireland has one of the largest dedicated freight railways in Europe, operated by Bord na Móna totalling nearly 1,400 kilometres (870 mi).[5]

Roads[edit]

Ireland. Motorways shown in blue, primary roads (N, A) shown in green.
(OpenStreetMap mapping)
Total - 117,318 km (72,898 mi)
South: 92,500 km (57,500 mi) including 1,015 km (631 mi) of motorway (2010)
North: 24,818 km (15,421 mi) including 148 km (92 mi) of motorway (2008)
paved - 87,043 km (54,086 mi), unpaved - 5,457 km (3,391 mi)

Ireland's roads link Dublin with all the major cities (Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Derry, Galway, and Waterford). Driving is on the left. Signposts in the Republic of Ireland are shown in kilometres and speed limits in kilometres per hour. Distance and speed limit signs in Northern Ireland use imperial units in common with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Historically, land owners developed most roads and later Turnpike Trusts collected tolls so that as early as 1800 Ireland had a 16,100 kilometres (10,000 mi) road network.[6] In 2005 the Irish Government launched Transport 21, a plan envisaging the investment of €34 billion in transport infrastructure from 2006 until 2015.[7] Several road projects were progressed but the economic crisis that began in 2008-09 has prevented its full implementation.

Bus services[edit]

Ireland's first mail coach services were contracted with the government by John Anderson with William Bourne in 1791 who also paid to improve the condition of the roads.[8] The system of mail coaches, carriages and "bians" was further developed by Charles Bianconi, based in Clonmel, from 1815 as a fore-runner of the modern Irish public transportation system.[9]

State-owned Bus Éireann (Irish Bus) currently provides most bus services in the Republic of Ireland, outside Dublin, including an express coach network connecting most cities in Ireland, along with local bus services in the provincial cities. Bus Átha Cliath (Dublin Bus), a sister company of Bus Éireann, provides most of the bus services in Dublin, with some other operators providing a number of routes. These include Aircoach, a subsidiary of FirstGroup which provides services to Dublin Airport from Dublin city centre, South Dublin City, Greystones and Bray. They also operate two intercity express non stop services service between Dublin Airport, Dublin City Centre, and Cork and also a non stop route between Belfast City Centre, Dublin Airport and Dublin City. Other operators such as Irish Citylink and GoBus.ie compete on the Dublin-Galway route. Matthews Coaches run a direct service from Bettystown, Laytown and Julianstown to Dublin whilst Dublin Coach operate services to Portlaoise and Limerick.

Some private rural operators exist, such as Halpenny's in Blackrock, County Louth, which was the first private bus operator to run a public service in Ireland, Bus Feda (Feda O'Donnell Coaches), which operates twice daily routes from Ranafast, County Donegal to Galway and back,[10] and Lough Swilly Bus Company.

In Northern Ireland Ulsterbus provides the bus network, with its sister company Metro providing services in Belfast. Both are part of state-owned Translink. Tiger Coaches operates a very late night bus service on Friday and Saturday nights between Belfast and Lisburn.[11]

Private hire companies such as Eirebus [12] offer groups traveling throughout Ireland with options ranging from cars to 56 passenger coaches and many run route between airports, Pavilions Shopping Centre, National Convention Centre and the O2.

Cross-border services (e.g. Dublin city centre to Belfast) are run primarily by a partnership of Ulsterbus and Bus Éireann with some services run across the border exclusively by one of the two companies (e.g. Derry–Sligo run by Bus Éireann). Aircoach, a private operator, does however operate a competing Dublin to Belfast Express service via Dublin Airport.

Waterways[edit]

Total (2004) - 753 km (468 mi)
(pleasure craft only on inland waterways, several lengthy estuarine waterways)

Pipelines[edit]

Natural gas transmission network 1,795 km (1,115 mi) (2003). There is a much more extensive distribution network.

Ports and harbours[edit]

Ireland has major ports in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Rosslare, Derry and Waterford. Smaller ports exist in Arklow, Ballina, Drogheda, Dundalk, Dún Laoghaire, Foynes, Galway, Larne, Limerick, New Ross, Sligo, Warrenpoint and Wicklow.

Ports in the Republic handle 3.6 million travellers crossing the sea between Ireland and Great Britain each year.[13] This has been steadily dropping for a number of years (20% since 1999), probably as a result of low cost airlines. Ferry connections between Britain and Ireland via the Irish Sea include the routes from Fishguard and Pembroke to Rosslare, Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire, Stranraer to Belfast and Larne, and Cairnryan to Larne; the Swansea to Cork route has closed. There is also a connection between Liverpool and Belfast via the Isle of Man. The world's largest car ferry, Ulysses, is operated by Irish Ferries on the Dublin–Holyhead route.

In addition, there are ferries from Rosslare and Cork to France.

The vast majority of heavy goods trade is done by sea. Northern Irish ports handle 10 megatonnes (Mt) of goods trade with Britain annually, while ports in the south handle 7.6 Mt, representing 50% and 40% respectively of total trade by weight.

Merchant marine[edit]

Total - 35 ships (with a volume of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over) totalling 288,401 GRT/383,628 metric tons deadweight (DWT)
Ships by type - bulk carrier 7, cargo ship 22, chemical tanker 1, container ship 3, roll-on/roll-off ship 1, short-sea passenger 1
Foreign-owned - Germany 3, Italy 7, Norway 2
Registered in other countries - 18 (2003 est.)

Aviation[edit]

Ireland has five main international airports: Dublin Airport, Belfast International Airport (Aldergrove), Cork Airport, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport (Knock). Dublin Airport is the busiest of these,[14] carrying over 22 million passengers per year;[15] a second terminal (T2) was opened in November 2010.[16] All provide services to Great Britain and continental Europe, while Belfast International, Dublin and Shannon also offer transatlantic services. For several decades until 2007 Shannon was a mandatory stopover for transatlantic routes to the United States.[17] In recent years it has opened a pre-screening service allowing passengers to pass through US immigration services before departing from Ireland.

There are also several smaller regional airports: George Best Belfast City Airport, City of Derry Airport, Galway Airport, Kerry Airport (Farranfore), Sligo Airport (Strandhill), Waterford Airport and Donegal Airport (Carrickfinn). Scheduled services from these regional points are in the main limited to flights travelling to other parts of Ireland and to Great Britain. Airlines based in Ireland include Aer Lingus (the former national airline of the Republic of Ireland), Ryanair, Aer Arann and CityJet. Services to the Aran Islands are operated from Aerfort na Minna (Connemara Regional Airport).

Ireland's national airline, Aer Lingus, provides air services from Belfast City, Cork, Dublin and Shannon to Europe, North Africa and North America. Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports are run by a State body, the DAA (Dublin Airport Authority). Other Irish airlines are Ryanair, one of the largest in the world, Aer Arann, CityJet, Air Contractors and the newly launched Aer Lingus subsidiary Aer Lingus Regional. There are a number of other operators specialising in general aviation.

Airport passenger numbers[edit]

In 2012, the passenger numbers were as follows:

Rank Airport Runways Max Length Passengers
1 Dublin 2 2,637 m (8,652 ft) 19,090,954
2 Belfast International 2 2,780 m (9,120 ft) 4,313,685
3 Cork 2 2,133 m (6,998 ft) 2,340,141
4 Belfast City 1 1,829 m (6,001 ft) 2,246,202
5 Shannon 1 3,119 m (10,233 ft) 1,394,781
6 Knock 1 2,340 m (7,680 ft) 685,000
7 City of Derry 1 1,967 m (6,453 ft) 398,209
8 Kerry 1 2,000 m (6,600 ft) 249,793
9 Waterford 1 1,433 m (4,701 ft) 80,000*
  • Latest available figures from 2011

Gateway Irish Urban Reference Destination Distances[edit]

Midlands Gateway Urban Destination Distances
The distances given below are in kilometres as travelling through the Midlands Gateway ATM (Athlone-Tullamore-Mullingar).
Where it is logical to travel along the east or west coast directly, these distances are provided according to the popular route.
Urban by-passes, Rockades, Diversions, Detours and all other dispositives prolonging the travelled distances between destinations are equated to ZERO.
This is an estimation distance guide only.
× City /Town 1 City /Town 2 City /Town 3 City /Town 4 City /Town 5 City /Town 6 City /Town 7 City /Town 8 City /Town 9 City /Town 10 City /Town 11 City /Town 12 City /Town 13 City /Town 14 City /Town 15 City /Town 16 City /Town 17 City /Town 18 City /Town 19 City /Town 20 City /Town 21 City /Town 22 City /Town 23 City /Town 24 City /Town 25 City /Town 26 City /Town 27 City /Town 28 City /Town 29 City /Town 30 City /Town 31 City /Town 32 City /Town 33
km Athboy
km 80 Athlone
km 188 241 Ballymena
km 144 221 46 Belfast
km 100 128 298 285 Castlebar
km 60 80 152 136 168 Cavan
km 232 255 44 91 269 180 Coleraine
km 368 217 467 424 274 300 491 Cork
km 220 234 89 114 221 163 50 478 Derry
km 40 142 163 120 230 88 187 309 188 Drogheda
km 80 124 211 168 235 108 235 259 236 53 M-50
Dublin
km 72 160 127 84 248 80 152 341 165 37 85 Dundalk
km 248 219 418 375 301 274 443 78 430 260 211 211 Dungarvan
km 60 40 222 176 130 40 200 297 193 90 80 120 251 Edgeworthstown
km 184 108 453 407 173 213 387 140 408 296 243 324 160 148 Ennis
km 120 126 434 168 160 46 157 363 107 137 154 100 337 86 234 Enniskillen
km 128 96 354 341 92 160 326 201 276 268 219 249 227 136 80 190 Galway
km 152 124 333 290 250 178 358 148 345 175 126 207 96 155 150 265 174 Kilkenny
km 160 230 515 472 290 319 539 87 476 357 308 389 165 296 155 382 215 195 Killarney
km 160 123 409 366 183 217 417 99 368 251 202 283 119 175 41 280 109 131 114 Limerick
km 40 55 245 197 112 56 228 284 191 118 105 147 244 15 156 101 156 162 310 202 Longford
km 32 48 215 169 154 59 232 242 221 75 65 85 216 35 155 121 144 120 261 159 42 Mullingar
km 60 116 244 201 227 130 269 223 256 86 37 118 175 107 206 193 205 89 272 165 114 72 Naas
km 100 80 368 325 174 169 332 134 307 210 161 242 151 146 84 232 100 93 149 43 153 111 124 Nenagh
km 60 179 97 110 199 72 102 423 57 133 181 110 375 143 338 50 255 290 404 297 128 130 201 254 Omagh
km 200 202 375 332 328 300 400 195 387 217 160 249 117 235 239 363 306 121 280 198 242 200 141 202 332 Rosslare
km 180 134 374 392 168 279 402 119 352 277 227 309 146 214 20 342 94 158 134 28 221 179 190 69 329 224 Shannon
km 160 117 215 202 84 121 187 323 137 201 207 200 334 96 255 75 175 228 338 231 81 123 199 195 114 358 216 Sligo
km 260 215 509 466 249 312 483 118 434 351 302 383 195 289 148 375 175 228 33 107 296 254 265 143 398 295 128 297 Tralee
km 60 43 256 213 169 93 281 207 256 149 101 130 181 80 165 156 138 85 226 124 77 35 89 76 204 164 144 158 219 Tullamore
km 160 174 373 330 310 228 397 123 385 215 166 247 46 205 170 291 236 51 208 129 212 170 129 160 329 73 155 289 226 135 Waterford
km 180 189 350 307 315 244 374 184 362 112 134 224 107 263 228 307 295 110 269 187 228 186 129 189 307 19 214 333 285 151 63 Wexford
km 120 170 270 227 280 204 295 254 282 112 55 144 176 181 281 146 265 132 346 240 188 146 75 199 227 109 265 253 340 146 133 84 Wicklow

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "CIA World Factbook—Ireland—Transportation". CIA. 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  2. ^ "Heavy Rail". Project. Transport 21. 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  3. ^ "The Irish Railway System". The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland. Retrieved 2010-03-29. 
  4. ^ "Northern Ireland Railways Timetables". Translink. Retrieved 2010-03-29. 
  5. ^ "Description of Railway". Bord na Móna. Retrieved 29 March 2010-03-29. 
  6. ^ "History of Transport in Ireland, Part 1". About Us. Córas Iompair Éireann. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  7. ^ "Roads". Projects. Transport 21. 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  8. ^ Parliamentary papers, Reports from Committees, Volume 20. London: House of Commons. 1837. pp. 3, 38–43. Retrieved 2010-03-29. 
  9. ^ Murphy, John (2005-01-04). "Bianconi home to become Clonmel hotel". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  10. ^ Feda O'Donnell Coaches
  11. ^ Belfast Telegraph 15 November 2010 report on launch of Tiger Coaches service
  12. ^ Eirebus Irish Private Coach Travel
  13. ^ "Direct Passenger Movement by Sea from and to Ireland (Republic) (000's)". Central Statistics Office. 2006. Retrieved 2010-01-24. [dead link]
  14. ^ "About us". Dublin Airport. Dublin Airport Authority. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  15. ^ "Dublin Airport tops 23 million passengers in 2007". Business. Thomas Crosbie Media. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  16. ^ "Dublin airport's T2 unveiled". News. Irish Times. 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2011-05-09. 
  17. ^ "Shannon stopover to go by 2008". Business News. RTÉ. 2005-11-11. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 

External links[edit]