FUNDING for hourly train services between Dublin to Belfast have been announced by the Irish government to update the current service which runs every two hours.

The funding, which is part of the Shared Island initiative came as part of a package which also included €600million for upgrades to the hazardous A5 road and €50million towards the building of Casement Park in West Belfast.

It is hoped the new service will be running to and from Dublin as early as next year, with Dublin pledging €12.5million (£10.69m).

Speaking on the project Irish Transport Minister, Eamon Ryan said: "For anyone who knows the difference that it made on the Cork-Dublin rail service when you go to frequent services – doing the same in Belfast, I think is really going to improve and strengthen the connectivities between those two important cities on this shared island.

"We've a lot more work to do – we are only scratching at the surface. I'm absolutely convinced that shared island approach on energy, on transport and environment is one of the ways of really deepening the connections on our island."

North Belfast Sinn Féin MP John Finucane said the investment was fantastic news.

The North Belfast MP said: "Sinn Féin have consistently called for improved connections between Ireland's two main cities to support the growing needs of business, retail and tourism.

"This will create greater access for jobs and opportunities, help to tackle the climate emergency and will provide a boost to the thriving all-island economy. We must continue to invest in our rail network and improve connectivity across the island."

NI's Department for Infrastructure and Translink have been contacted to ask if the hourly services will also be rolled out from Belfast to Dublin.