Irish Rail is planning to install vending machines on all of its InterCity services next year at a cost of around €1.5 million.
Catering services were suspended on trains in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. A limited offering has since resumed on the Cork-Dublin route, but Irish Rail has struggled to find a catering provider on other services.
However, passengers will soon be able to access on-board refreshments from vending machines on all of the rail company’s InterCity routes.
READ MORE: Virgin Media announces new hosts of Six O'Clock ShowThe machines are expected to offer cold drinks, snacks and confectionery, and will likely be located in the galley car on each service.
Irish Rail is currently seeking tenders for a contract to install and maintain the machines, which will have to be specially designed to withstand shocks and vibrations in the unusual on-board setting.
The estimated value of the contract is €1.5 million plus VAT, and the successful provider will be awarded a five-year contract to maintain and clean the machines, with an option of a five-year extension.
The main locations at which the units will be serviced are Connolly Station and Heuston Station in Dublin, as well as Kent Station in Cork. Companies have until December 22 to tender for the contract.
Catering trolleys were previously operated on Irish Rail services by RailGourmet, but these were suspended following the onset of the pandemic.
The trolleys made their long-awaited return to some services between Dublin and Cork last April, but Irish Rail has been unable to identify a suitable provider for other routes; with labour costs, supply costs and risk appetite believed to be issues.
The company did not respond when asked whether the introduction of vending machines would spell the end of catering trolleys on Irish trains.
It is understood that there will have to be alterations made to train cars in order to accommodate the vending machines, and the machines will have to be compatible with the power supply available on board.
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