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Irish Rail to spend €5 million on new replacement bus services contract

The company will spend €1 million apiece on the provision of services in Dublin and Limerick/Clare.

IRISH RAIL HAS put out to a tender a contract worth €5 million over three years to deliver a bus service when required to customers.

It said it was looking for “competent bus/coach operators to provide transport for both bus hire as alternative transport to complement rail services during planned works and in the event of unplanned rail disruption”. 

The tender is broken down by geographical areas, with contractors having the potential to bid for one area only.

The replacement bus services will be required in:

  • Greater Dublin
  • Kildare, Laois, Offaly and Tipperary
  • Limerick and Clare
  • Cork
  • Kerry
  • Carlow, Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow
  • Meath, Louth, Westmeath and Longford
  • Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon

Irish Rail said: “The purpose of this framework is to have sufficient bus company’s available covering all regions, who can be relied upon to provide a quality support service for planned line closures or unplanned line closures.”

When service disruption is planned, requests to the qualified candidates identified will be issued. When it comes to unplanned disruption, the nearest available qualified candidate to where the disruption is occurring will be offered to operate the replacement service.

Services in Dublin requiring amounting to €1 million worth over the overall tender.

The Limerick and Clare service is also worth €1 million, with the other sections amounting to €500,000 over the three years.

The tender is also open to applicants who wish to use subcontractors to fulfill the service. Anyone applying must have a minimum annual turnover of €100,000.

In one section, Irish Rail asks applicants to answer a number of questions as to how it would provide the service.

This includes examining bus pick up and drop off points at stations to ensure that the locations are safe, how it would direct passengers to and from buses, how it’d make sure no passengers get left behind, and what would be done if a bus broke down and had to be replaced.

Irish Rail said it intends to say which providers have been successful by November. 

The company invests €10 million annually in improving sections of its lines, with Saturday usually the designated day for works to be carried out.

This week for example, a number of services between Limerick and Ballybrophy were covered by a replacement bus service due to “operational issues”, Irish Rail said. 

And, earlier this year, it used bus transfers between Dublin Connolly and Greystones after a fire damaged signalling equipment between Dalkey and Greystones

A spokesperson for Irish Rail told that this level of award is similar in both value and length to previous contracts for replacement buses, and is always dependent on what events take place, such as flooding.

The spokesperson also confirmed that replacement buses would not be used in times of industrial action. Late last year, rail workers went on strike for a number of days in the autumn and winter but eventually came to a resolution with the company

The closing date for any applications in 9 October.

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