As the Deputy will be aware, I have a strong interest in this area and I see potential for the development of rail freight in Ireland. Our Programme for Government commits us to a 7% average annual emissions reduction and the intra-modal shift of some freight traffic from road to rail can make a contribution to achieving this.
I met with the Chairman and Chief Executive of Irish Rail in December and we discussed a number of issues, including the company's plans for the development of rail freight. Irish Rail is preparing a Rail Freight Strategy with the support of outside consultants to guide actions to 2040.
The Deputy will also be aware that I have also requested my Department to prepare terms of reference for a Strategic Rail Review. This Review will consider all relevant issues in relation to inter-urban rail, inter/intra-regional rail, and rail connectivity to our international gateways, with the latter considering the role of rail freight. I understand this may be the first such Review to be conducted on an all-island basis and this will, I believe, allow for a fuller consideration of the potential role of rail and the network required to support that potential than perhaps has been allowed before.