According to reports in The Irish Times, a group of telecoms operators has approached the national rail operator Iarnrod Eireann to discuss the feasibility of using its communications lines to develop their own networks. Unconfirmed reports suggest the operators in question include Envy and Smart Telecom, and one unnamed telco is said to have offered EUR1 million for access to the state firm’s fibre-optic network. Alternative operators are vying to ramp up their activities in the broadband market and see Iarnrod Eireann’s network as a means to achieve this. The rail operator has a communications network alongside its rail lines which is used to carry signals for trains, CCTV and other internal communications. A spokesman for Iarnrod Eireann confirmed it had been approached by several firms, saying ‘We will consider any proposal, but at this point we do need to assess what our existing needs are and what they will be in the future, particularly in light of Transport 21 (the government’s transport plan) which allows for expansion of rail services’.