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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 13:23 GMT
New trains to boost rail network
Northern Ireland Railways train
Move is part of a revitalisation of the rail system
A Spanish company has been awarded the contract to provide 23 new trains for the Northern Ireland network.

The decision to buy new trains is part of a revitalisation of the rail system, according to the Northern Ireland transport company, Translink.

Regional Development Minister Peter Robinson made the announcement of the 80m contract on Tuesday.

It is the largest ever single investment in railway rolling stock in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Railways last purchased new trains back in 1994 for the modernisation of the enterprise service

Peter Robinson,
Regional development minister

Spanish company CAF has been named as the preferred bidder for the contract for the replacement of all Class 80 trains.

Mr Robinson said: "For most of us, this is a once in a lifetime event and I feel very privileged to have played my part in bringing this about.

"Northern Ireland Railways last purchased new trains back in 1994 for the modernisation of the enterprise service and then it was only two trains. Today, we are announcing 23 new train sets."

'Falls short'

He said investment in public transport infrastructure was long overdue.

"I see this as just the beginning of our efforts to revitalise rail travel in Northern Ireland.

Peter Robinson:
Peter Robinson: "Just the beginning"

"The travelling public is well aware that standards of passenger comfort and the reliability of our trains in Northern Ireland falls far short of what is required."

The minister said new rolling stock and extensive track would enhance the experience of rail travel and lead to an increase in passenger numbers.

The contract follows the recommendations of the Railways Taskforce in late 2000.

The trains being purchased from CAF are diesel versions of the trains which operate the Heathrow Express service in London.

See also:

10 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
70m plan to replace all NI trains
25 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Future of railways under spotlight
02 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Fears over 'poor' transport system
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