Irish Railway Record Society
Irish Railways: 1946 - 1996
When the Irish Railway Record Society was formed in 1946, Ireland was served by a railway network owned and operated by ten separate private companies.
Over the last fifty years there have been many changes to the railway system on both sides of the border: nationalisation of the systems north and south; elimination of steam traction; passenger and freight rolling stock modernisation; complete change in the method of freight operating; the loss of traditional traffics and the gaining of new ones; reduction in route milage through line closures; modernisation of signalling systems; completion of the first stage of the electrification of the Dublin suburban network etc.
The IRRS, through its Journal, has recorded these changes, together with other notable events on our railway systems.
Route mileage fell from over 2,800 in 1946 to under 1,500 now, leaving large parts of the island without rail services. In Northern Ireland, things changed for the better with the formation of NIR in 1967 and the adoption of a more pro-railway attitude by the Government. One can only hope that recent developments do not signal a reversal of Government policy towards the railways. In the Republic, despite periodic injections of capital, for new locomotives, rolling stock, DART etc., the overall situation of the railway declined slowly until the late 1980s. Since then, funding from the E.U. has seen a significantly improved level of investment in the system.
One can only speculate on what developments might take place on the Irish railway systems over the next fifty years. There have been calls for further extensions to the DART, the re-opening of lines and stations, the provision of an LRT system for Belfast.
One can be certain, however, that whatever developments do take place, they will be recorded in the Society's Journal.
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