Irish Railway Record Society
Irish Railways: 1946 - 1996
It was realised by both NIR and Iarnród Éireann that considerable new investment would be required to bring services on the cross-border line, the island's prime inter city trunk route, up to the standard that would be demanded in the 21st century and to compete with the developing road network After considering seven options, it was decided that the best financial case was for the upgrading of the track to 90 m.p.h. standard, to introduce new train sets of the highest European standard and the operation of nine services in each direction. Approval was sought from both governments and its granting was announced at the Anglo-Irish conference meeting of 27th April, 1992. Work commenced in March 1993 and has involved the replacement of the original jointed track on timber sleepers with continuously welded rails on concrete sleepers, the raising of overline bridges to accommodate larger freight containers, the replacement of a number of underbridges and the remodelling of station layouts at Drogheda, Dundalk and Portadown.
To operate the new services 28 vehicles, four driving van 1st class trailers, four 1st class trailers, four catering trailers and sixteen standard class trailers, were ordered from DeDietrich in France. Based on the successful 'Eurostar' trains operating through the Channel Tunnel, the new coaches are 23 metres long, fully air-conditioned and feature external sliding plug doors, but unlike the 'Eurostar', the cross-border trains are not articulated. It was originally envisaged that these vehicles would be formed into four 7-car trains. However, the dramatic increase in traffic on the cross-border route following the paramilitary cease-fires in Northern Ireland, rising from 535,000 passenger journeys in 1993 to 832,000 in 1995 has resulted in a re-evaluation of the proposed train consists.
By June 1996 nearly 100 miles of track and 40 bridges had been upgraded, and delivery of the first of the new coaches had taken place On completion of the project it is envisaged that the journey time between Belfast and Dublin will be reduced to 100 minutes non-stop and 105 minutes with four stops.
Copyright © 2001 by Irish Railway Record Society Ltd.