Financially stricken Irish Rail is set to sell off around 90 railway carriages for scrap.
The iconic orange and black inter-city carriages are rusting away in sidings in Dublin, Waterford, and Dundalk.
At one stage, it looked as if Irish Rail could recoup hundreds of thousands of euro for the carriages, which could have been refurbished.
They were advertised for sale in 2010 but hopes that a British train operator would snap them up failed to materialise.
Now Irish Rail has decided to cut its losses. It is inviting tenders to break up and dispose of the 90 carriages, which are “surplus to requirement”.
It is the biggest sell-off of old inter-city stock in the history of the State and comes just weeks after CIE was given a €36m injection by the Department of Transport to help its worsening financial plight.
During the Celtic Tiger, Irish Rail took the decision to spend over €400m on transforming its fleet from being the oldest in Europe to the most modern.
The purchase of more than 180 railcars from South Korea saw the MKIII-type inter-city carriages being gradually withdrawn between 2005 and 2009.
The carriages, built between 1984 and 1988, and sufficient in number to typically form more than a dozen full trains, were held in reserve.
One option was to use them to supplement services on the Dublin-Belfast route as part of the long-term objective to provide an hourly service during the day, but it never happened.
While some modifications could have extended their life by 20 years, it was deemed uneconomic.
The economic collapse saw a halt in the rise of passenger numbers which, in turn, meant less demand for additional carriages.
The withdrawal of the carriages and the decline in freight on Irish Rail has also left the company with a surplus of locomotives, some of which have also been withdrawn from regular use and are effectively being stored.
Indeed, Irish Rail now finds itself with a surplus of stock. And rather than leave the carriages languishing away — exposed to the elements and to vandals — it has taken the decision to dispose of the stock.
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