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NORTHERN IRELAND RAILWAYS

PASSENGER NUMBERS

Rail passenger revenue increased by 10% in the last quarter of 2004 in comparison with the same period in 2003. In the same period the weekly average rail passenger miles increased from 2.71 million to 2.79 million.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Larne Line   Work has commenced on re-laying the line between Bleach Green Junction and Whitehead. The main contractor AMEC entered into a joint venture with Magherafelt-based contractor FP McCann. The contract covers 71/2 miles of double track between Bleach Green and Saltmines (Kilroot) and 21/2 miles of single track from Saltmines to Whitehead and is worth approximately £17m (AMEC's share is worth £9m). Work also includes complete re-signalling of the newly re-laid line with colour-light multi-aspect signalling controlled from the Belfast Signalling Control Centre at Central and strengthening coastal defences between Carrickfergus and Whitehead.

The work is divided into three phases. The first phase started when the line was closed completely from Good Friday evening 25 March until 06:00 on Wednesday 30 March (over the Easter Weekend). A special timetable was issued. Two 6-car and one 5-car 80-class sets were stabled in Larne Harbour on the Friday evening to form Larne-Belfast trains the following Tuesday morning. There was also bridge works on OB450 between Magheramorne and Larne, which continued at nights and weekends throughout April and May.

After Easter the up line between Saltmines and Bleach Green Junction was taken out of service from 06:00 on Wednesday 30 March, with off-peak trains cancelled completely and peak period trains operating over the down line.

Additionally the down line between Bleach Green Junction and Saltmines and the single line between Saltmines and Whitehead was closed between 09:05 and 15:50 and between 18:05 and 22:00 Mondays-Fridays. It was also closed from 18:05 Fridays until 22:00 Sundays.

The only trains to operate were the 06:45 , 07:25 and 08:05 Larne Harbour-Belfast GVS and 15:56 , 16:37 and 17:15 GVS-Larne Harbour Monday-Friday, with no trains at weekends. These trains also catered for the considerable schools traffic on the line. Pilot working was in force for wrong-line working for the morning trains with flagmen at level crossings. Normal signalling was available for evening trains over the down line.

Work started on lifting track on the up line, excavating the trackbed and installing drains from the Bleach Green Junction end. All rail, 113 lb for CWR, had been laid out from Bleach Green to Whitehead and a road-rail lorry mounted flash-butt welder was welding them into long lengths. Concrete sleepers were stockpiled in various locations, including a section of the former Back Line’ at Greenisland. Other work included repairs to the sea defences between Kilroot and Whitehead.

Phase 2 will see a complete line closure from June until October. Phase 3 will last from October to December. In early October, the line will re-open between Bleach Green Junction and Carrickfergus and remain closed from Carrickfergus to Larne Harbour .

Belfast - Londonderry   Carrowreagh level crossing at 76 miles 10 chains was renewed in an overnight possession on Saturday 5/Sunday 6 March. Many little used accommodation crossings have now been closed. A new bridge at Galdanagh north of Cullybackey has allowed three accommodation crossings to be closed.

Rock fall protection work has been completed at the site of the Downhill derailment and the speed restrictions removed. Steel netting has been installed on the steep embankments.

Belfast - Dublin    The closure of the Belfast-Dublin line over Easter allowed NIR the opportunity to re-lay one mile (MP971/4 -981/4) of the down line at Moira with CWR on steel sleepers. GM locomotive 8113 + 6 ballast hoppers were stabled on the down road facing Portadown  on   Easter  Sunday  in  conjunction

with the re-laying.

Work has been undertaken on strengthening OB222 at Scarva.

Other   In February, NIR advertised for the supply and delivery of ballast to Antrim and Londonderry yards.

 

STATIONS

Translink propose to carryout improvements at all stations and halts. This work will include the upgrading of facilities to comply with current Disability legislation requirements. The total value of the investment is estimated to be £9m.

Implementation of works will be phased over a three-year period and Translink advertised for Consultants for Project and Commercial Management, Architecture, Quantity Surveying, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Structural/Civil Engineering and Planning Supervision.

In February NIR advertised 'As part of an on-going programme of improving passenger facilities Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) invites expressions of interest for the manufacture, supply, delivery and installation of the following equipment for use at stations and halts on the rail network: passenger shelters, signage, seat-ing and litter bins. It is essential that applica-tions can demonstrate suitable proposals for use in areas subject to vandalism and conseq-uent ease of repair and maintenance, whilst providing attractive and practical solutions’.

‘There are approximately 60 locations. It is anticipated that this will be a 3-year phased programme commencing 3rd quarter 2005, Phase 1 being the Belfast - Bangor line…’.

Services to Knockmore halt, which is located between Lisburn and Moira, were withdrawn from 24 March. Translink said they ‘took the decision after research showed that very few passengers use the halt. Since the withdrawal of services from the Antrim to Lisburn railway line, passengers at Knockmore can travel only in the Portadown direction. This means most passengers have gravitated towards Lisburn railway station. We would like to apologise to any passengers who will be inconvenienced’.

In March, it was reported that Translink had purchased 16 acres of land at Ballymartin near Templepatrick on the Bleach Green Junction-Antrim line for a Park + Ride facility. The site is between the  A57  road and the railway line and is near the M2.

DEPOTS

The main structure for the new cleaning and servicing shed at Fortwilliam has been substantially completed and cladding work was well advanced in April. Concrete was also being poured for the fuelling and toilet servicing areas. McLaughlin and Harvey are the main contractors and work is expected to be completed in June. York Road running shed will remain as a maintenance shed.

 

SIGNALLING

The Automatic Warning System (AWS) system is being continually extended. AWS magnets have been installed in Coleraine. It is currently being installed between Magherabeg and Londonderry , the Portrush Branch and between Lisburn and Lurgan and is due to be commissioned before the end of the year.

 

LOCOMOTIVES AND ROLLING STOCK

3000-class   Deliveries continued in winter and spring. Sets 3011 and 3012 were delivered to York Road on Monday 24 January. Sets 3013 and 3014 were delivered on Wednesday 23 February with sets 3015 and 3016 delivered on Monday 14 March. Sets 3017 and 3018 were delivered to York Road on 4 April. 3019 and 3020 were delivered to Belfast on 9 May.

Set 3007 entered service on Tuesday 4 January and 3006 on Thursday 6 January. Sets 3008 and 3009 both entered service on Monday 7 February. Set 3004 entered service on Monday 21 February. Set 3012 entered service on Monday 28 February on the 06:55 Belfast Great Victoria Street (GVS) - Londonderry and 09:35 return. Set 3011 entered service on Friday 11 March, working the 06:55 GVS-Londonderry link. Set 3014 entered service on Tuesday 26 April and 3013 on Friday 6 May.

The new trains were primarily concentrated on Bangor-Portadown services, with some operating GVS-Londonderry services. As further drivers were trained more services were taken over by the 3000-class. On 29 January, a 3000-class was observed on a Saturday service for the first time, working the 06:10 Bangor-Portadown link. During the week commencing 7 February the 17.26 GVS-Portrush was a CAF set to/from Coleraine.

Sets 3002+3004 were tested on IÉ between Tuesday 15 and Thursday 17 February. They initially ran to Drogheda depot for clearance purposes, coupling trials with a 2800-class railcar and to commission IÉ CAWS and train radio systems. They ran from Drogheda to Connolly at 22:00 on Wednesday 16 February and were cleared for all platforms and sidings, before returning to Belfast .

By April, Londonderry crews had been trained to work the 3000-class and they started to appear on more Belfast-Londonderry trains.

Locomotives    GM 8113 returned to service on Monday 10 January when it worked the 07:20 Newry-GVS and 17:15 GVS-Newry links. It spent most of the spring on ballast train duties. No. 111 is in York Road undergoing major engine work.

80-class   With new railcars entering service, 80-class railcars that suffer major failures are being stored rather than being immediately repaired. Eight power cars and 12 intermed-iates / driving trailers have been withdrawn.

On Sunday 30 January, 8068  suffered an engine failure at Templepatrick on the 10:35 GVS-Coleraine and is unlikely to return to service. On Thursday 10 February, 8086 + 8068 + 8756 + 8768 + 8777 + 8755 were transferred from York Road to Adelaide for storage using 227 and 8113 'Topping and Tailing'.

Power car 8085 was being stripped for spares at York Road in February. Power car 8092 returned to traffic on Wednesday 2 March having suffered a major engine failure in February 2004. Power car 8091 and driving-trailer 8747 were withdrawn on Monday 25 April and moved to Adelaide yard for storage.

On Wednesday 27 April, 8744 , 8762, 8779, 8765 and 8752 were moved to Bangor for storage. On Friday 6 May, 8755 , 8756, 8768 and 8777 were sold for scrap and removed from Adelaide yard by road.

450-class   Braking trials have been carried out using new composite brake blocks.

Mk IIf (Gatwick) Carriages   As more 3000-class CAF railcars were commissioned, the locomotive hauled Mk IIf (Gatwick) set was temporarily placed in storage after it worked the 07:20 Newry-GVS on Wednesday 19 January. Newry services were subsequently operated by various types of railcar, including 450-class before becoming a regular 6-car 3000-class working. Two carriages were stored in Adelaide and IÉ 220 hauled five carriages to Bangor for storage on Sunday 23 January. On Sunday 13 February, IÉ 227 hauled the carriages from Bangor to Adelaide yard. They are expected to return to service in the autumn.

De Dietrich   The refurbishment programme continues in York Road . Sixteen vehicles have been completed to date, twelve standards and four First Plus vehicles. Refurbishment of the Driving Van Trailers is about to commence.

Meridians   In February, Translink confirmed that HSBC Rail, owners of seven new 9-car Meridian Inter City DMUs that had not been leased out, had approached Translink and IÉ to explore lease possibilities. The Meridian units were built by Bombardier in 2003. They were to be leased to UK train operator Midland Mainline, but its plans to develop new services were rejected by the UK Strategic Rail Authority. Translink said both rail companies were examining the business case for an hourly service on the Dublin-Belfast line. It is understood that the 9-car sets would have to be shortened to 8-car to avoid having to lengthen platforms. Translink stressed that this was just one of a number of options under consideration by the two companies in their review of Enterprise services. Other options under were additional Mitsui InterCity railcars under an option in the IÉ contract or Mk III carriages cascaded from the Dublin-Cork line.

 

 The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 157, published June 2005.

Copyright © 2005 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: August 23, 2005 .

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