From 1932 to 1949, Ireland ran one of the earliest battery-powered train lines, from Central Dublin to the beach town of Bray. Ireland’s quest to modernize its train network could soon make it a global leader in battery-powered trains. National carrier Iarnród Éireann launched its request for proposals last week to purchase 600 new train carriages by 2040—a near-total overhaul of a fleet that currently contains 629 carriages nationally. All those new trains would run on electricity, and up to half could be powered by batteries. That would represent a remarkable transformation for a network that today runs largely on diesel. An order of this size for battery-powered trains is unprecedented globally. It does, however, make sense when you understand the particular conditions Irish railways are working under. By Northern Europe’s high standards, Ireland’s rail system is a little behind the times, and it wants to catch up fast. The only part powered fully by overhead electric cables is DART ( Dublin Area Rapid Transit ), the commuter rail system that serves the capital region. That in itself represents no small portion of the country’s rail traffic: DART contains nearly a quarter of the total Irish rail fleet (144 […]

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