French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom has been granted the Cork Area Commuter Rail (CACR) network contract by Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) for European Train Control System (ETCS) and Alstom’s Smartlock Computer-Based Interlocking (CBI) system.

The CACR project is intended to modernise 62km of rail network from Mallow to Cork, Cobh and Midleton, resulting in a unified suburban train service for Cork residents.

Alstom noted that the Smartlock system is at “the core” of this project, as the system removes the need for intermediary relays by directly connecting with axle counts and trackside objects via SmartIO, ensuring a durable and streamlined operation.

Alstom UK and Ireland managing director Nick Crossfield emphasised the company’s enthusiasm for the project, which also aligns with Alstom’s mission for sustainable mobility: “We are excited to embark on this journey, bringing cutting-edge technology to the Cork Area Commuter Rail network.

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“With Smartlock and ETCS, we are confident that this project will set new standards in safety, efficiency and passenger experience, providing a strong foundation for sustainable mobility in the region.”

Level 1 ETCS deployment reinforces the commitment to safety and assures a seamless, secure and environmentally friendly train network.

Iarnród Éireann CEO Jim Meade highlighted the strategic advantages gained through this partnership: “I commend our Cork Area Commuter Rail team for ensuring that all three elements of the CACR Programme are progressing so swiftly.

“New signalling, our new platform and twin-tracking of Glounthaune to Midleton are set to transform the capacity of our Cork Commuter Rail network and position us well to move forward with other rail projects under the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, including the critical delivery of new stations.”

This collaboration strengthens the connection between Alstom and the Republic of Ireland, which, according to Alstom, is the top provider of new trains and railway services to the UK and Ireland.

As previously reported, the French manufacturer has supported a contribution of nearly £1bn to the UK and Ireland’s GDP in the financial year 2022–23.

Adding to this, Alstom has also secured a ten-year framework deal with Irish Rail for up to 750 new X’trapolis commuter rail carriages for the DART network.