The Deputy is probably aware that there are three significant developments under way to expand capacity on the northern line. These are the expansion of the commuter rail fleet; the expansion of the DART fleet; and the electrification of the northern commuter line and its integration within the overall DART network.
In recent weeks, Government approved the purchase of 41 additional intercity railcars. These additional railcars will be added to the existing rail fleet and will benefit commuters across the greater Dublin area, including passengers on the northern line. I am informed that once these carriages have entered into service, capacity on the northern line will increase by approximately 20% as compared with today, which will be a very welcome boost to capacity on the line. It is expected that these railcars will begin entering service by late 2021.
The other two developments I referred to form part of the overall DART expansion programme, a programme which will roughly double the capacity of the greater Dublin area commuter rail network. The first of these developments is the proposed significant expansion of the fleet. In May this year, the National Transport Authority, NTA, and Iarnród Éireann commenced a procurement pre-qualifying competition. Its intention is to put in place a ten-year framework to purchase a minimum of 300 trains and possibly up to 600, if needed. This fleet will be a mixture of fully electric fleet and bi-mode, or battery electric, fleet. The inclusion of battery electric fleet will allow the trains to be deployed on the northern line in advance of the second aspect of the broader programme which is the subsequent electrification of the entire line up to Drogheda.
As to timelines, the process of having rail fleet built is a lengthy one and it will take between three and four years after the award of the contract before these new battery electric trains start to be delivered, probably at the end of 2023 or in 2024. It is not possible to confirm exact delivery dates until the fleet supplier is appointed. Timelines for the electrification of the line will be finalised as part of the development of the programme level business case which I expect to receive next year. As mentioned, additional capacity will be added to the line in advance of that aspect of the overall programme.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I hope the Deputy can see that there are a number of very positive developments under way with regard to the northern line.