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Irish Railway News  - Journal 164


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Rolling Stock


Northern Ireland Railways - Translink



The RPA is developing detailed design options for Metro North and is engaged in ongoing consultations in respect of these. A number of the issues outstanding when the route was selected have been resolved:

St Stephen’s Green   The current proposals envisage a three-platform station, with a scissors crossover about 270 metres north of the platform ends.

O’Connell Bridge   Site investigations for this stop were carried out during July and August. These included the use of a borehole drilling rig on a platform in the River Liffey adjacent to O’Connell Bridge.

Parnell Sq   There was widespread public support for the inclusion of a stop here. The stop will be situated below Parnell Sq East.

Drumcondra   Various options for the location of this stop were considered, including locating the stop under the Drumcondra Rd. This would have resulted in serious road disruption in the area for up to three years.

It has now been decided that the stop will be situated on St Joseph’s Ave, to the rear of St Vincent’s Centre for the Deaf. The demolition of St Vincent’s will allow the creation of a plaza area between the entrance to the stop and Drumcondra Rd.

Drumcondra-Griffith Ave   The RPA initially identified the straightest alignment between the Drumcondra and Griffith Ave stops as the preferred option. However, following representations from residents concerned about the impact of tunnelling on their properties, the RPA developed and examined a further four possible options for the tunnel alignment. An open day was held on 2 August to allow members of the public discuss the options with the RPA. The consultation process on this section ended in late August.

Griffith Ave   The precise location of this stop is dependent on the outcome of the consultation process in respect of the alignment from the Drumcondra stop.

Griffith Ave-Ballymun   Following extensive consultations, it was announced on 20 April that the line was to be taken through Ballymun in a cut and cover tunnel, rather than on the originally proposed elevated structure. As a result of this decision the RPA is undertaking detailed design options for this section, including the stops serving Dublin City University and Ballymun.

Dublin Airport   The stop serving the airport will be located below the short-term car park and will form part of a major transportation hub that is included in the Masterplan for the airport. The platform will be about 200 metres from Terminal 1.

Seatown   Following public consultations, the RPA propose locating this stop about 200 metres south of the Seatown roundabout.

Lissenhall   The RPA proposes locating the line’s depot immediately to the north of Lissenhall stop. The design of the depot is currently being developed.


In response to the RPA’s tender pre-qualification process, eight companies have expressed an interest in operating Metro North. These are MTRC, which operates the Hong Kong metro system; Keolis, which runs the Lyon public transport system; Veolia Transport, a worldwide public transport operator, including the Luas; Transdev, one of France’s largest public transport operators; RATP, the Paris metro, tram and bus operator; ATM Milan’s transport company; First Group, which operates bus and rail services in Britain; and HTM the tram and bus operator from The Hague.

Companies interested in being involved in rolling stock supplies include Alstom, CAF and Siemens.



   Details of the emerging preferred route were announced by Minister for Transport & The Marine, Noel Dempsey TD and RPA Chief Executive Frank Allen on 5 July. This broadly follows the Route Option 1 described in JOURNAL 162, but with minor variations in some areas.

The principal variations are in south Clondalkin, where the preferred route runs through Clondalkin Park rather than Moyle Park, and in the section between Meakstown and Metropark where the line will take a more northerly course. The option of extending the Luas Red Line eastwards from its existing Tallaght stop to a new terminus adjacent to the Tallaght East metro terminus is also being examined.

Two possible sites for the Metro West depot have been identified. These are at Abbotstown and at Sillogue.

Having selected the preferred route, the RPA commenced the public consultation phase of the project. This will define the precise route alignment, as well as the locations of stops, Park + Ride sites and the depot.



The IÉ Annual Report covering the year ending 31 December 2006 reveals a continuation in the large growth in rail passenger numbers. In 2006 there were 43.3m journeys, representing a 14.9% increase over the then record 37.7m journeys in 2005. The report states 'The increase reaffirms IÉs standing as the EUs fastest growing railway, a status achieved through the previous year's 9% growth. In just two years since 2004, rail passenger numbers have increased by almost 25% or 8.5 million journeys'. The passenger figures were 34.6m in 2004, 35.5m in 2003, 35.4m in 2002 and 34.2m in 2001.

The Chairman of CIÉ Dr John Lynch said 'Investment and improved performance are inextricably linked. In our DART operation, for example, expenditure on longer trains and the extension of platforms is now paying dividends with passenger numbers in the peak periods increasing by 22% in the last two years, whilst off peak carryings have increased by 34% in the same period'.

The operating surplus before exceptional items in 2006 amounted to €23.3m (€15.4m in 2005). Exceptional items rose from €7.9m to €27.4m to give a net deficit for the year of €4.1m compared with a surplus of €7.5m in 2005. Exceptional items were largely redundancy costs primarily associated with loss of sugar beet and Diageo (Guinness) traffic and franchising out catering operations. The loss of Diageo and sugar beet freight traffics resulted in a reduction in revenue estimated at €10m for the year 2006 and €16m in a full year.

The 2006 capital expenditure programme was funded by grants from the Exchequer of €253.1m, the EU of €20.9m and own resources of €22.5m. This included €100m invested in the Rail Safety Programme.

Overall passenger revenues rose 10.5% from €150.9m to €166.8m. Within this figure, suburban revenues rose substantially from €42.0m to €51.9m while mainline passenger revenue only rose slightly from €139.9m to €140.2m. Freight revenue dropped 26.9% from €17.8m to €13.0m.

Mainline rail division revenue increased from €139.9m to €140.3m, with total expenditure increasing from €195.7m to €199.0m. Expenditure was €47.2m (€46.6m in 2005) on rolling stock maintenance, €21.3m (€16.2m) on fuel, €125.5m (€127.5m) on operating and other expenses, €23.1m (€18.5m) on depreciation and €18.0m (€13.1m) on amortisation of capital grants.

Suburban rail division revenue rose 23.5% from €42.0m to €51.9m. Expenditure increased from €61.4m to €65.5m. Expenditure breakdown was €17.0m (€13.5 in 2005) on maintenance of rolling stock, €7.5m (€6.2m) on fuel and electricity for traction, €38.0m (€38.6m) on operating and other expenses, €18.9m (€16.8m) on depreciation and €15.9m (€13.7m) on amortisation of capital grants.

Railway infrastructure maintenance expenditure fell from €189.6m to €174.6m, of which €149m was apportioned to the mainline rail division (€171m). Within the total expenditure figure, €70.8m was spent on maintenance of railway lines and works (€68.8m in 2005), €68.7m (€87.6m) on renewal of railway lines and works, €28.0m (€26.7m) on ‘operating and other expenses’, €17.8m (€17.3m) on depreciation and €10.7m (€8.8m) on amortisation of capital grants.

Road freight division revenue was €24.1m (€29.8m in 2004) and it recorded a loss of €0.4m (surplus €0.4m). Rosslare Europort division revenue was €11.4m (€10.6m) and recorded a surplus of €3.1m (€3.2m).

State grants, EU and Exchequer funding reduced to €271m (€281m in 2005, €238m in 2004, €299m in 2003 and €312m in 2002). This was apportioned €86.9m (€78.9m in 2005) to rail operations and €184m (€202m) to railway infrastructure. The breakdown of this funding was €188.7m Exchequer PSO subvention (€180.0m in 2004), Exchequer safety and other grants €13.7m (€13.3m), Exchequer funded renewals €68.7m (€67m in 2005, €47.3m in 2004, €91.9m in 2003, €107.6m in 2002), EU funded renewals nil (€1.5m in 2005, €8.4m in 2004, €21.8m in 2003) and deferred funding nil (€19m in 2005, €0 in 2004). The accounts also show a grant of €1.3m for ‘infrastructure grant (freight)’ under EU Regulation 1107/70 Article 3.1(b) (€1.4m in 2005). They also show €35.4m transferred to CIÉ for lands and buildings (€38.8m in 2005).

The average number of staff employees in 2006 was 5,317 (5,463 in 2004). This was broken down into 3,570 (3,655) in railway operations and catering, 1,242 (1,268) in Infrastructure, 79 (108) in road freight, 88 (89) in Rosslare Europort and 338 (343) in projects. Total payroll and related costs rose to €232m from €227m.

IÉ met or exceeded punctuality targets for the year. Targets are within 10 minutes:


























































In July, IÉ commenced the first of a series of public consultations on the design of the proposed Dublin Heuston-Docklands Interconnector line, now known as the DART Underground. While the general location of stations had already been decided as they interchange with other public transport modes including DART, Commuter, Intercity, Luas and Metro, various options exist for design of stations and these are noted on the route map diagram. The DART Underground will see the DART extended to the Northern, Maynooth and Kildare commuter lines. The 5.2 km tunnel will link the Dublin-Belfast line to the Dublin-Cork line, with underground stations at Docklands, Pearse, St Stephen's Green, Christchurch and Heuston.

IÉ said ‘Together with current investment such as the Kildare Route Project and city centre re-signalling, the Interconnector will quadruple the capacity of the Greater Dublin commuter rail network to over 100 million passenger journeys annually’.

‘It will result in two DART lines, running without the conflicts and other restrictions which limit the number of services today…

·    Maynooth/Pace (M3) - Connolly - Pearse - Bray - Greystones

·    Howth/Northern Line - Clontarf Road - Docklands - Pearse - St Stephen's Green - Christchurch - Heuston - Hazelhatch’.

When will all this happen?   The DART Underground will be completed by 2015 under the Transport 21 investment programme. IÉ is currently undertaking design work, geo-technical studies and public consultation, to devise the routing, design and station layouts. A Railway Order application will be made in 2009. It is hoped construction can begin in 2010. However, IÉ intend to extend the DART to the Northern and Maynooth lines well before the Interconnector is completed’.

How will it be built?   ‘The tunnel will be constructed using Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs). Two single-bored tunnels will be constructed, with each of the tracks in a single tunnel, connected at various intervals. The portals will be at Heuston car park and North Wall, and the average depth of the tunnel is estimated at 20m below ground level. Stations will be constructed in different ways, depending on the depth of the station and constraints over and underground. A “shallow” station is likely to be constructed using “cut and cover” means, while deep stations will be constructed underground by enlarging and connecting the profile of the twin-bored tunnels. The stations will be accessible for mobility-impaired customers, and will be situated close to other transport modes at key interchange locations’.

Environmental Impact   ‘As part of the preliminary design process an environmental assessment is being completed to identify key environmental issues to be addressed. Examples of issues being considered include noise, air quality, ecology, soils and hydrogeology. The philosophy at this stage is to eliminate all potential environmental impacts wherever possible’.

Archaeology   ‘An archaeological and architectural heritage assessment is being completed to identify features that need to be avoided in the preliminary design. The approach being taken is a comprehensive and thorough examination of all existing archaeological and historical information in the study area. This task will be a key influence on informing the design and developing control strategies to protect the cultural heritage of the city’.


The new Minister for Transport, Mr Noel Dempsey, is a Meath resident and in an interview in June with The Meath Chronicle about re-opening the Dublin-Navan line he said ‘We will look at the possibility of a shorter timescale for this badly-needed project. I understand there may be a roadblock in Dublin causing difficulties’. The newspaper noted that this difficulty was the requirement for the construction of the Interconnector, which had not been mentioned as an obstacle until that occasion. It also quoted the Minister as saying he expected the Interconnector to be in place by 2011, as opposed to 2015 as stated in Transport 21. He was quoted as saying that it was ‘absolutely realistic to expect that commuter trains would be running from Navan by 2015’ and he considered that 2015 was an ‘outside target’.


In June, the Minister for Transport told the Dáil ‘The capacity on the Maynooth line … has trebled in the last 5 years. The opening of the Docklands Station in March has also provided a significant increase in capacity on this line. As part of Transport 21, IÉ also propose to re-signal the city centre area and to electrify the Maynooth line to provide faster journey times and increased frequencies and planning in relation to these projects is already under way’.


Work on preparing for the third and fourth tracks between Inchicore and Hazelhatch continued during the summer. Significant earth works have been noted along the route. The overbridge at Kishogue was demolished on 5 August.

Work on both the Portarlington and Kildare Route schemes resulted in replacement by bus of late Saturday evening and early Sunday trains on 19/20 May, 16/17 June, 14/15 July and 4/5 August. On the Saturdays, the 18:05 Westport-Heuston ran to Athlone only, the 18:30, 19:30 and 20:30 Cork-Heuston ran to Portlaoise only and the 20:00 and 21:00 Heuston-Cork started from Portlaoise. The 18:40 Heuston-Thurles, 21:10 Thurles-Heuston and 22:45 Heuston-Kildare were cancelled. On the Sundays, the 08:10 Heuston-Tralee and 08:40 Heuston-Galway stared from Portlaoise. On other Saturdays, the 22:45 Heuston-Kildare was cancelled until the end of September.


Major rebuilding of track and signalling took place during the summer. The project will see the renewal of track and points through the station, re-alignment to achieve 80-mph on the Dublin-Cork line and 20-mph on the Dublin-Athlone-Galway line, complete re-signalling, extensions to up and down platforms and installation of a new down loop.

The loop on the up side was taken out of use on Sunday 17 June and points were subsequently removed. As a consequence, Tuesdays up and down Norfolk liners crossed in Geashill instead of Portarlington. On Sunday 8 July, the facing crossover from the down main to the up main at the north end was removed. This left the crossover and turnout to the Athlone line at the south end as the only active points in Portarlington.

With old points and crossovers removed work commenced on constructing the platform extensions at the north end of the existing up and down platforms but to a new alignment.

Between last train on Friday 3 and first train on Saturday 4 August, the replacement trailing crossover between up and down lines north of the platforms, the new trailing crossover at the southern end of the up loop and the new facing crossover on the main line at the north end were installed. The replacement for the turnout at the north end of the up loop is now a crossover incorporating traps. All are located nearer Dublin than the originals.

On Sunday 5 August the first stage of commissioning took place. All trains were cancelled between 20:00 on Saturday and 10:00 on Sunday. The new facing crossover at the northern end, the trailing crossover and connections to the southern end of up loop were all commissioned. New signalling was brought into use. A new Solid State Interlocking (SSI) with Emergency Control Panel, located in temporary accommodation at the level crossing control centre in Athlone replaced the relays in the local relay room. It will be moved to a new Emergency Control Panel (ECP) Centre in Athlone currently in an advanced stage of construction. However, normal control remained with the signalman in CTC in Dublin. Control of the existing crossover and turnout for the Athlone line at the southern end also transferred to the SSI.

Track circuits through the station area were removed and replaced by axle counters. CAWS (Continuous Automatic Warning System) cab signalling was temporarily non available. All signals were renumbered with the prefix PN. New signals were installed and additional aspects installed in others. There is a new down 3-aspect signal on the down main and the down home signal is now a 4-aspect. There is a new up 3-aspect signal at the north end of the up platform and the up main distant is converted into a 3-aspect (yellow-green-yellow). To allow engine run-round from the new down loop a wrong direction fixed at danger signal is installed on the down line at the Dublin end of the loop points.

The northern end of the up loop could not be returned to service at this time as a signalling location case had to be removed before trackwork could be completed and this could only be done after the SSI took over. It was commissioned on 19 August. The up loop is 310m long. The new down loop was still under construction.

The up loop will remain fully accessible by both up and down direction trains, while the new down loop will be accessible by down direction trains or up trains terminating as there is no trailing crossover at the north end to allow trains depart towards Dublin.

Work on Portarlington resulted in very little disruption to trains (some on Sunday morning) with the complete change out of signalling at this important junction being carried out in 14 hours on one of the wettest nights of the summer.


The draft feasibility study on a rail link to Shannon Airport was made public in May. It states: ‘In the early years there would be a significant deficit on the operating account, but with a buoyant air travel market for the whole 30-year period, revenues could potentially cover operating costs, taking a longer-term view’. Estimates for the proposal range from €240m to €700m.

  The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 164, published October 2007.

Copyright © 2007 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: December 16, 2007