Irish Railway Record Society

Home 187 Journal 186 Journal 170 Journal 169 Journal 168 Journal 167 Journal 166 Journal 165 Journal 164 Journal Journal 163 Journal 162 Journal 160 Journal 160 Journal 159 Journal 157 Journal 156 Journal 155 Journal 154 Journal 153 Journal 152 Journal 151 Journal 150 Journal 149 Journal 148 Journal 147 184 Journal 183 Journal 182 Journal 185 Journal 181 Journal 180 Journal 179 Journal 178 Journal 177 Journal 176 Journal 175 Journal 174 Journal 173 Journal 172 Journal 171 Journal
Waterford Line Mini-CTC

The line from Athy (inclusive) to Waterford West (exclusive) was programmed to be the second Mini-CTC line after the Galway line and was commissioned at 17.43 on 28 April 2004 . The work was carried out by IE’s New Works Signalling Department managed by Mr. Pat Judge. The existing signalling consisted of mechanical cabins at Athy, Carlow, Bagenalstown, and Thomastown with an electric (relay type) interlocking at Kilkenny controlling the station and the Lavistown Triangle. There were three ETS sections, Athy-Carlow, Carlow-Bagenalstown, and Thomastown-Waterford West. The sections Bagenalstown-Kilkenny and Kilkenny-Thomastown were operated by Track Circuit Block working. The closure of the four mechanical cabins reduces the number of mechanical cabins on IE to 43. The block-post at Thomastown was abolished and a new one installed at the site of the former Ballyhale Yard which is nearer to half way between Lavistown South Junction and Waterford West.

The Waterford line signalling is worked by a Solid State Interlocking which directly controls the line except at Kilkenny where the existing interlocking interfaces with the SSI using a Programmable Logic Controller. Unlike the Galway line there were no station level crossing to be converted to four-barrier CCTV monitored type but there are five ‘A type’ mid-section level crossings. These crossings have iron gates and are not signalled. When a user requires to cross the level crossing keeper telephones the controlling signalman and advises the location of trains, if any, in the vicinity. These bring their own workload on the signalman.

The local control panel is located at Waterford West and as this interlocking is not included in the new system, there are two signalmen at Waterford West signal cabin. One controlling the Waterford Line CTC and one the mechanical interlocking there. Unlike the Galway Line where the system terminated in a terminal station, the Waterford line had to interface with the mechanical interlocking and the Waterford West signalman has a panel in addition to the mechanical frame. As in traditional Track Circuit Block working between two signalmen, they both have direction switches and for a train to enter the Waterford West-Ballyhale section both signalmen must set there switches to the required direction in order to have the signals clear for a train to enter the section.

  As with the Galway system, the sections are worked by axle-counters rather than the more tradition method of using track circuits. A feature new to Irish Rail signalling is the use of 3-aspect distant and home signals. Traditionally when a train was approaching a diverging route the speed of the train was controlled by holding the signal at Danger until a timer proved that the driver had reduced the train speed  to that of the speed restriction on the turnout. This is known as ‘approach control’. In the case of Carlow and Bagenalstown, when a train is diverging into the loop, the driver is given a double yellow aspect in the distant signal and a single yellow in the home signal to ensure he reduces speed. In both Carlow and Bagenalstown the main station building is on the loop so the new arrangement benefits all passenger trains unless they are making a crossing with a train in the opposite direction. In the case of the mainline through these two stations, the driver can get green aspects in the distant, home and starter signals if the section ahead is clear.



The new panel at Waterford West incorporated the ‘traffic direction’ switch for Ballyhale (bottom left), while top left are the traffic direction indicators. The status of the track circuits on the western half of the Waterford West interlocking are indicated on the panel by red (occupied) or yellow (unoccupied) lamps. The position of four mechanical signals is also indicated by red and green lamps instead of the more traditional miniture arm in a case. Newrath No. 1 level crossing is incorporated into the Waterford West interlocking and the ‘Section Signal’ for Ballyhale, No. 42, will not display a proceed aspect unless the level crossing is closed against the road. Similarly the ‘home’ signal from Ballyhale No. 4 requires the gates to be closed to road traffic.



 In the months preceding commissioning, sidings at Athy, Carlow and Thomastown and their associated signals were taken out of use and new colour light signals and equipment cases were erected. In the case of Carlow, removal of the turnout, No. 18, at the north end of the freight yard converted a loop into a dead-end siding and necessitated a change in working. The 14.05 Waterford-Drogheda empty bulk cement train regularly crossed both the 15.05 Dublin-Waterford and the 14.40 Waterford-Dublin passenger trains in Carlow. Following the change, it arrived directly into the freight yard first and, after both passenger trains departed, it had to propel back out of the yard towards Muine Bheag before resuming its journey.

From Wednesday 14 April, before the main closure, Thomastown ceased to be a crossing point with all points disconnected before subsequent removal. During this period, passenger trains ceased to call, with passengers conveyed by road to and from Kilkenny. The 09.30 Dublin-Waterford and 13.10 return operated to and from Kilkenny only, as did the Fridays and Saturdays-Only 16.30 Dublin-Waterford.



There was a complete line closure from 19 to 28 April to allow points to be renewed in stations and commissioning of the new signalling system. Passenger trains were substituted by bus to and from Newbridge. Freight trains were cancelled, except the Drogheda-Waterford cement trains, which operated via Wexford. The line was closed after the passing of the up 0720 Waterford to Dublin passenger train on 19 April. An Electric Train Staff was withdrawn Traffic Executives for each section to put the instruments ‘out of phase’ and not allow any trains operate. When this was done, the Waterford Line signalman at Waterford West granted the engineers possession of the line to execute the work. The points and crossings work was carried out by the local permanent way staff supervised by Mr. Brendan McCormack, Chief Permanent Way Inspector, Dublin Division, and Mr. Tom Ruane, Assistant Divisional Engineer.

Three new turnouts were installed in Athy, three in Carlow, and two in Muine Bheag and old points and turnouts removed. Thomastown ceased to be a block post and all points and signals were removed. The track through the station had been excavated and re-laid with CWR on concrete sleepers in February and is on the up side on the station building side.

The new loop at Ballyhale, MP433/4, between Thomastown and Waterford , has a siding at the Kilkenny end. The loop is on the down side at the Waterford end of the former station building.

Track circuits are used in station areas, with axle counters for the single line sections between stations. Points and traps for sidings are automatically moved from the reverse to the normal position after a train has passed. Kilkenny, which was previously a power signalbox with colour light signals covering the station area and the sections Muine Bheag-Lavistown, Lavistown-Kilkenny, Lavistown-Thomastown and the triangle at Lavistown, was incorporated into the Mini-CTC system. These sections all previously used track circuits but Muine Bheag-Lavistown, Lavistown-Kilkenny and Lavistown-Ballyhale sections were converted to axle-counters. Other than adding a ‘2’ in front of existing point numbers, there were no changes made to signals formerly controlled by Kilkenny. Waterford West takes over monitoring Ballyreddin AHB crossing from Kilkenny. Kilkenny one-control-switch panel is no longer available to control any lines, as it cannot interface with Mini-CTC. The track circuits between Cherryville Junction and Athy had been previously replaced by axle counters. In Waterford West, new two-aspect colour light down distant, down outer home and up section signal protect Newrath No. 1 and No. 2 level crossings but there is no change to the semaphore signalling through these gates on the Limerick line.

Initially, the Waterford Line is operated from the Emergency Control Panel in Waterford West, pending transfer of control to mainline CTC in Connolly station, Dublin . All signals are prefixed with the letters WL and all points are operated by Westinghouse type 63 machines.

On and from the day after the commissioning, 29 April, the 13.10 Waterford-Dublin was altered to depart Waterford at 13.20 in order to cross the 11.35 Dublin-Waterford in Ballyhale instead of Thomastown.

  The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 154, published June 2004.

Copyright © 2004 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: November 06, 2015 .