All-Island Strategic Rail Review

The All-Island Strategic Rail Review (AISRR) was announced in April 2021 by Northern Ireland’s Minister for Infrastructure, Nicola Mallon MLA and Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD. The draft AISRR report and associated Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) reports were published for consultation on 25 July 2023.

About the Review

The AISRR considers how the Island’s railways are currently used, what role rail could play in future, and how the Island’s railway could better serve the people of both jurisdictions.

The time horizon for the Review covers the period to 2050 to align with both jurisdictions’ stated goals of achieving net zero carbon emissions by this milestone.

The vision of the Review is to provide a “high quality, sustainable and integrated railway for passengers and goods across the Island of Ireland”. The Review sets out six high-level goals which aim to use rail as effectively as possible to:

  • contribute to decarbonisation;
  • improve All Island connectivity between major cities;
  • enhance regional accessibility;
  • stimulate economic activity;
  • encourage sustainable mobility; and
  • achieve economic and financial feasibility.

It also considers the interactions between proposed improvements and existing, or planned, commuter rail services. It does not consider rail within major cities, which is subject to separate and established strategic planning processes.

The Review considers a long list of potential rail sector intervention solutions under four main categories:

  • New lines;
  • Infrastructure enhancements (of existing lines);
  • Infrastructure enhancement in the form of new station; and
  • Frequency improvements.

The AISRR Report presents the findings and 30 recommendations from this Review.

Progress to date

Officials from the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Department of Transport in Ireland have been working closely together, and with the appointed consultants, Arup, to undertake the Review and draft its Report.

The infographic outlines the progress of the AISRR to date.

AISRR Infographic 27 July 2023

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Consultation

As required by Directive 2001/42/EC, and the legislation transposing this into national legislation in both jurisdictions, it was necessary to carry out screening to determine whether it was required in respect of the AISRR.

The SEA Applicability Screening process was completed in May 2023 and it was determined that a mandatory SEA was required.

Scoping was completed in relation to the SEA Environmental Report in June 2023 and the draft SEA report, and associated environmental assessments, were completed in July 2023.

The SEA Environmental Report, associated environmental assessments and the AISRR draft report were published for the purposes of public consultation on 25 July 2023, following agreement by the Minister for Transport in Ireland and, in the absence of an Infrastructure Minister in Northern Ireland, by the Permanent Secretary for Infrastructure, under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2022 (as amended).

The consultation opened on Tuesday 25 July 2023 and will close on Friday 29 September 2023 at 11:59pm.

Next steps and implementation

Following conclusion of the AISRR SEA consultation, the Review’s report will be finalised with feedback from the SEA consultation appropriately incorporated.

It is anticipated that the Minister for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland, as well as the Minister of Transport and Government in Ireland, will be asked to approve the Review before the finalised Report is published. Should there continue to be an absence of Ministers in the NI Executive, approval will be considered taking into account the decision-making framework set out in the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act 2022 (as amended) or relevant legislation in place at the time.

It is currently anticipated that the Final Report will be published on this website aroud the end of 2023.

The recommendations of the AISRR provide an evidence-based framework to inform future direction of travel for investment in the railways across the Island. However, more work will be needed to test the feasibility and environmental impact of the Review’s recommendations and to secure the necessary funding to take projects forward.


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