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In June, Translink Chief Executive Mrs Catherine Mason said that over the past four years rail patronage, including Enterprise, had increased by 28%, while the number of bus passengers on Metro [Belfast Citybus] and Ulsterbus was up by 7.3%.


Translink has found it necessary to increase its fares due to the continued rise in fuel costs. It’s fuel bill is expected to be £9m higher than last year. NIR fares were increased by 4.2% from 25 August. Bus fares were increased by between 5% and 6.4%.


Belfast-Dublin Following the Selby accident on the East Coast Mainline when a Land Rover crashed off a motorway bridge onto the line in front of an approaching train, an assessment of 124 NI rail bridges showed that 18 were in need of strengthening to prevent such an accident. Finaghy Rd North was assessed as ‘highest risk’ and strengthening work took place during the summer with no disruption to trains. A temporary footbridge was installed.

Antrim-Lisburn In March, the Minister for Regional Development gave details of expenditure on the line:

Year Revenue Capital Total
2002/03 £8,500 £0 £8,500
2003/04 £9,120 £0 £9,120
2004/05 £9,744 £25,150 £34,894
2005/06 £5,516 £0 £5,516
2006/07 £21,190 £0 £21,190
Total £54,070 £25,150 £79,220

Belfast-Londonderry Rehabilitation work has been taking place at various locations between Cullybackey and Londonderry . Excavation of the formation generally took place during night-time possessions.

Belfast-Larne The Minister for Regional Development advised the following capital expenditure took place over the last 5 years:

Bleach Green-Whitehead re-laying £24.4m
Whitehead-Larne rehabilitation £2.2m
Sea Defences £0.4m
Fencing £0.2m
TPWS £0.7m
Disability Discrimination Act Works £1.2m
Total  £29.1m

In addition, there was £4.1m of revenue expenditure on permanent way and structures.

In June, Translink announced that they had completed a £600,000 coastal protection scheme on the Larne line at Boneybefore, Carrickfergus.  ‘Work involved the installation of approximately 3,000 tonnes of reinforced concrete, comprising of a large beam at the base of the existing stone wall, a slab over the existing stone embankment and finally the construction of a wave wall, all over a 370m long stretch. Work took place during low tide meaning the construction workers only had access for 5 – 6 hours twice in a 24 hour period’. Work on site started in February 2008 and took 16 weeks.

Newry Construction of the new station building is proceeding rapidly. It is located on the up side. The up platform was closed on 21 July and the canopy was subsequently removed. Structural steel for the new terminal building was in place by early August. Stopping trains used the down platform, with few delays.

Station Upgrades   The station upgrade programme continues. Work includes resurfacing platforms and replacing station furniture such as lighting, shelters, signs, etc.

Level Crossings NIR has advertised for a contractor to supply, install, test and maintain ‘a Co-acting Gates System for trial at a User Worked Railway Crossing’. NIR required delivery and installation in two phases: Phase 1) Prototype fully developed and tested by mid-December 2008; Phase 2) Trial system installed and commissioned by mid-February 2009. Among the requirements noted in the specification were:

‘(1) Co-acting Latch mechanism: a means to latch and un-latch the gates on both sides of the railway from either side of the railway e.g. Hydraulic circuit or mechanical cables (e.g. Bowden cables);

(2) Co-acting Gate mechanism: a means to open and close the gates on both sides of the railway from either side of the railway e.g. hydraulic circuit using rotary actuators;

(3) Means to manually override the system in the event of a failure so that the gates can be latched/unlatched and opened/closed completely independently if required;

(4) Means to secure the gates in both the open and the closed positions e.g. a separate gate-post for securing gates in the open position; etc.

Equipment NIR used the services of a mobile ultrasonic rail test wagon from Sperry in June. It traversed the system at night. The Sperry wagon was also used on the IÉ system, with special instructions issued for its operation in July. The 4-wheel wagon is 5.92m over buffers, weighs 12.5 tonnes and has a 2.5m wheelbase. It has a two-pipe air brake system. It has a platform at one end and is numbered SRS242. It can be towed by a track machine or a locomotive.

IÉs EM50 track recording car visited the NIR system in July. It traversed the system at night.

To assist with compliance with the current Network Rail standard for track geometry recording, NIR have placed a contract with Balfour Beatty, Derby , for a set of unattended Track Geometry Recording Equipment to be fitted to a 3000-class railcar. ‘Recording will be made whilst the host vehicle is performing passenger runs’.

In August, NIR advertised for ‘12 auto-ballast hoppers ... The supplier will be responsible for the supply and maintenance of these hoppers, the training of NIR operatives...’.

Train Radio NIR has advertised for a replacement train radio system. The current radio transmission network is serviced through base stations located at Divis Mountain ( Belfast ), Carrickajuke (Armagh) and Harkins Hill ( Londonderry ). These sites are owned by PSNI, and NIR have permission to locate their base stations and aerials at each site.

A network survey was carried out, which identified a number of areas that had very weak signal strength (i.e. black spots). Three new base station sites were identified. These were Donegal (RTÉ broadcast mast), Ballymoney (O2 Mobile phone mast) and Blacks Mountain (Clermount Carn, Armagh/Louth Border RTÉ broadcast mast). A standby base station will be installed at each location. The radio control unit at Central station also requires upgrading. It is expected that work will commence in October 2008, with commissioning by April 2009.  


On 18 June, the Minister for Regional Development visited the newly extended York Rd maintenance depot. The extension was finished in January having taken 43 weeks. It was completed on time and on budget. Originally designed for 20m long carriages of the 80-Class and 450-Class trains and 7-coach Enterprise trains, the original 201m site did not allow full access to the longer (23m) C3k trains and 8-coach Enterprise trains. Now 229m long, the York Rd depot can house up to 6 x C3k carriages and a full Enterprise set. Over 60 employees carry out more than 800 preventative maintenance services each year along with 90% of all the running repairs. An additional 75m of rail was laid in the depot along with 3 new buffers. An estimated 2000 of material was excavated. A new, more energy efficient heating system has also been installed as well as improved lighting, both on the upper level and under the walkways and rails.


Interfleet Technology, Derby , have been awarded a consultancy support contract for ‘Procurement and Commercial Services, Technical Maintenance and Safety and Project Management Services’ related to the purchase of up to 20 new DMUs. Burges Salmon LLP, Bristol , was awarded a legal services contract.

In June, NIR issued an invitation to Tender for 20 new trains (See JOURNAL 166).

The following timescale was noted:

Jun-08  Invitation to Tender 
Mar-09 Contracts signed
2009- 2012 Design and Build of Trains 
2011     Delivery of Initial trains 
2011   Trains commissioning and testing 
2011  First trains enter service 
2012  Last trains enter service


111-Class 112 was on trial in May after overhaul in York Rd Works. It later went to Inchicore Works where it received a refurbished set of bogies. On Saturday 31 May, 112 worked from Inchicore to Connolly. It returned to York Rd next day.

80-class The last un-refurbished set, 8089-8733-8738-8069, worked its final passenger train on an ITG/MRSI special on Saturday 24 May (see below for details). Power car 8089 failed at Whitehead, was repaired, but did not work another passenger train.

Scrapping of withdrawn vehicles has been undertaken by Clearways, Belfast Docks. The following were scrapped in May: Power Cars 8068, 8091, 8098, Driving Trailers 8734, 8742, 8753 and Intermediates 8764, 8765. The following were scrapped in July: Power cars 8083, 8085, 8086, Driving Trailers 8736, 8744 and Intermediates 8762, 8766, 8779, 8780.

450-class The class continues to operate Larne and Coleraine-Portrush services on a daily basis, with occasional use on the Londonderry line. The Portrush branch set is generally swapped for maintenance purpose by working a regular service from Coleraine to Belfast , with a 3000-class working branch services until the replacement 450-class set arrived from Belfast .

Other A reply to a parliamentary question revealed that NIR spent £11.2m in six months on all train repairs in 2007/08.


Timetable With the reduction of commuting during the summer holiday season, the normally locomotive-hauled 07:50 Portadown-Belfast Central did not operate from 7 July until 31 August. It also did not operate during the summer of 2007. It returned to service on Monday 1 September.

Saturday 17 May The North West 200 motorcycle event in Portrush is always a very busy day. The 06:58 Belfast Central-Londonderry, 3001+3021, had about 180 passengers. Most transferred to the 08:30 Coleraine-Portrush, 3-car set 3012, which departed with about 350/380 passengers. This set formed the 08:45 Portrush-Coleraine, which then ran empty to Ballymoney to act as a relief to the 08:20 special ex-GVS ( Great Victoria Street ) from there. The 08:20 itself arrived in Portrush at 10:03 with about 550/650 passengers in 6-cars (3002+3015) and was then shunted to Barry’s sidings. The 08:40 GVS-Londonderry, 3022, arrived in Coleraine at 10:22 with about 280 passengers and departed with 70. The 09:30 Londonderry-GVS, 3001+3021, ran through to Portrush (Coleraine dep. 10:32) and had about 750 passengers including passengers from the 08:40 ex GVS.

The 08:55 special from GVS, 3007+3020, departed Coleraine at 10:50 with about 250/260 passengers. The 09:40 special from GVS, 3004+3016, ran non-stop through Coleraine at 11:22 and had about 250/260 passengers. The 11:30 Coleraine-Portrush, 3007+3020, loaded about 200 passengers.

The 10:40 GVS-Londonderry, 3-car 3018, arrived in Coleraine at 12:27 with about 330/380 passengers. The 11:25 Londonderry-GVS, 3022, arrived in Coleraine at 12:17 with about 350/360 passengers. Most transferred to the 12:20 Coleraine-Portrush, 3007+3020, which departed with 500/550 passengers.

At 11:45 there were four trains in Portrush, one in each platform and one in Barry’s sidings. Portrush cabin then switched out.

Saturday 24 May The ITG and MRSI operated a joint tour. GM 111 plus the Gatwick set operated Belfast Central-Dublin Connolly- Belfast Central. Passengers transferred to the sole remaining 80-class, 8089-8733-8738-8069, which then ran to Ballymena via Bleach Green Junction, returning to Belfast Central via the Antrim-Lisburn line before running to the RPSI Whitehead Depot. Due to failure of 8089 at Whitehead, 8455 operated Whitehead-Carrickfergus, before working the 16:30 Carrickfergus-GVS. 111 plus Gatwick set worked Belfast-Dublin-Belfast.

Saturday 14 June Due to large numbers travelling, the 10:50 GVS-Londonderry was reported to have departed Central 53 minutes late. It was substituted by bus between Coleraine and Londonderry .

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 167, published October 2008.

Copyright © 2008 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: January 01, 2009 .

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