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Punctuality Percentage of trains arriving no more than 5 minutes late were advised for the Bangor and Larne lines:

Bangor Line

Period From To Punctuality 
1 31/03/2008 27/04/2008 95.87%
2 28/04/2008 25/05/2008 95.37%
3 26/05/2008 29/06/2008 95.64%
4 30/06/2008 27/07/2008 98.54%
5 28/07/2008 24/08/2008 94.49%
6 25/08/2008 28/09/2008 97.56%
7 29/09/2008 26/10/2008 89.50%
8 27/10/2008 23/11/2008 88.64%
9 24/11/2008 28/12/2008 92.74%
10 29/12/2008 25/01/2009 97.02%
11 26/01/2009 22/02/2009 97.42%
12 23/02/2009 29/03/2009 98.02%

Larne Line figures were:

2008/09 Punctuality 2009/10 Punctuality
Period   Period  
1 96.83% 1 98.14%
2 95.41% 2 96.86%
3 96.98% 3 97.91%
4 96.73%    
5 96.33%    
6 96.53%    
7 93.33%    
8 92.11%    
9 91.79%    
10 96.83%    
11 95.89%    
12 96.74%    


NIR fares were raised from 18 May. Local train fares rose 3%. The Minister for Regional Development advised the Assembly of previous fare increases:

Date Increase
29-Mar-04 5.00%
28-Mar-05 5.00%
27-Mar-06 9.00%
26-Mar-07 0.00%
31-Mar-08 4.90%
25-Aug-08 4.30%

NIR is facing difficulties from reductions in Treasury support at a time of record carryings. The Minister for Regional Development gave the following subsidy figures for Concessionary Fares (CF) and Public Service Obligation-Railways (PSO) to the Assembly:

2003/04 £1.922m £18.724m
2004/05 £2.091m £20.924m
2005/06 £2.393m £21.859m
2006/07 £3.306m £21.682m
2007/08 £4.104m £24.054m
2008/09 £6.067m £22.984m
2009/10 budget £5.255m £21.274m
2010/11 budget £5.683m £21.274m


Head-end Power In May, the Minister for Regional Development was asked ‘for an estimate of the cost of providing separate generator functions to avoid the use of head-end power on the Enterprise service’. He replied to the Assembly: ‘In conjunction with IÉ, Translink are assessing a number of options for reconfiguring generator power supplies on Enterprise trains. The estimated costs at this time range from £1m-£3m. When final designs and costs are available a business case will be prepared to assess each option.

Hourly Service In May, the Minister for Regional Development was asked ‘to outline the progress in introducing a clock face timetable on the Enterprise, and to identify any potential stumbling blocks including additional rolling-stock requirements’. He told the Assembly: ‘A business case was prepared by NIR and IÉ which examined the options for increasing the frequency of the Enterprise service to an hourly basis. Due to the capital and revenue cost of refurbishing and running surplus rolling stock held by IÉ, no commitment was given to the introduction of frequency improvements in the foreseeable future. However, the two railways companies are exploring the scope for improving the reliability of the rolling stock on the Enterprise line’.


In May the Minister for Regional Development told the Assembly: ‘A study by an inter-departmental steering group in August 2007, which looked at the options for future railways investment in the North, found that there was no economic case at present for re-opening the line between Knockmore and Antrim. The funding that is available for railway services is being focussed on other, priority areas. I have, however, had discussions with the Kilbride Group, a private sector development company which has produced proposals for restoring the Antrim to Knockmore line, and I have indicated that I would consider part funding a Feasibility Study if the local Councils in the area were also willing to make a financial contribution to the study.’

In July the Minister for Regional Development said ‘Translink has not carried out any work or studies on the Knockmore Railway Line in the Crumlin area within the past 3 months and any studies undertaken by outside parties would need to involve liaison with the relevant authorities. I commissioned a study to consider the possible long term social, physical and economic developments which could be achieved through the enhancement of the railway line along the Northern Railways Corridor. The study will include the Knockmore to Antrim railway line. The report on the findings of the study is expected later this year.’


Re-laying with CWR from MP371/2 at Broughdone Level Crossing to MP611/4 at Coleraine Station was completed on time and within budget and the line re-opened for traffic on Monday 29 June. Sets 3001 and 3022 were separately sent empty to Coleraine on Friday 26 June to be in position for the re-opening.

No Permanent Way trains operated for the re-laying with all materials were brought in by road. Tracked excavators were used to lay sleepers. McLaughlin & Harvey were the main contractor. A combination of new and good quality second-hand materials was used. The formation was completely excavated and renewed and a new semi-permeable membrane installed on which a deep bed of new ballast was laid.

New pre-cast concrete platform sections have been installed in Ballymoney and the track and turnouts in the station completely renewed. At Killagan the turnout at the crossing has been replaced with a completely new one and the loop completely re-laid with new materials.

Five bridge decks were replaced and waterproofing renewed on 8 bridges (UB87 –UB103) between Antrim and Ballymena over 3 weekends in June. This was part of a £1.3m programme of work to the bridges between Antrim and Coleraine.

Project Managers have been appointed for the next phase of the Londonderry line track upgrade between Coleraine and Londonderry.


Belfast-Dublin The up line through Meigh has been re-laid with CWR on steel sleepers, with sleepers in situ for re-laying through Adavoyle. The sidings on the up side at the south end of Portadown station have been re-laid.

In June, the Minister or Regional Development was asked ‘to detail (i) all of the sections of railway track on the Dublin line between Belfast Central and the border which are not certified for 90mph running; and (ii) all of the temporary speed restrictions in place’.

He replied: ‘Translink have provided the attached table, which details the sections of the track which are subject to permanent speed restrictions, and gives the specific restriction at each individual location. There is only one temporary speed restriction currently in place and this is also provided. The temporary speed restriction will be removed after bridge repair work is completed. This work is scheduled for completion August/September 2010 under the current programme for repairs’.






Adelaide – Balmoral (DOWN line)



Curvature, Points & Crossings

Balmoral – Finaghy (DOWN line)




Derriaghy – Hilden




Hilden – Knockmore




Knockmore – Trummery (UP & DOWN line)



Track condition Note 1

Trummery – Moira (UP & DOWN line)



Track condition Note 1

Lurgan (UP line)



Track condition Note 1

Lurgan (DOWN line)



Track condition

Note 1

Lurgan – Portadown (UP line)




Portadown Station



Points & Crossings

Portadown Station & Approach




Portadown – Scarva




Portadown – Tandragee




Portadown – Scarva




Portadown – Scarva




Scarva – Poyntzpass




Poyntzpass Curves




Poyntzpass – Newry




Knockanarney – Newry




Newry – Meigh




Newry – Meigh



Wellington Cutting / Curvature

Advoyle – Border










Poyntzpass – Newry (UP & DOWN line)



Bridge Condition

Note 1: Knockmore to Lurgan Re-lay Project to address

Coleraine-Londonderry From 16 August the speed limit through XL196 McConaghy’s Accommodation Crossing at MP781/4 has been reduced to 5-mph.

Belfast-Larne The switches and crossings at the Dargan Bridge are being replaced.

The Minister for Regional Development advised the Assembly: ‘Translink have also provided me with the following information regarding capital expenditure on lines and stations in East Antrim.

Project Name




2009/10 Projected Spend

Magheramorne Passing Loop





UB424 Carrickfergus- Edge Beams





Downshire to Whitehead Sea Defence Strengthening - Section 1





Downshire to Whitehead Sea Defence Strengthening - Section 3





Track Condition Retention Programme - Larne Line





Carrickfergus P&R





Whiteabbey P&R





Greenisland P&R





Jordanstown Halt P&R





Whitehead P&R





Magheramorne Train Radio Signal Booster





Bleachgreen to Whitehead Relay










Signalling On 15 June, ‘starting’ signal CL256 on platform 2 at Antrim was moved 53m towards the end of the platform. This means that points 828 are no longer part of the overlap of CL256 and the signalman can set a route into platform 1 from the Belfast direction while the road is set into platform 2 from the Ballymena direction.

The Minister for Regional Development said that Translink have advised him that there is no preservation order on Castlerock signal box and there are no plans to obtain one.

The Minister told the Assembly: ‘The railway signalling system adjacent to the City of Derry Airport includes colour light signals fitted with automatic train warning systems, controlled from an NIR signal cabin. In order to provide protection while aircraft movements are taking place, the system additionally requires air traffic controllers at the airport to operate a line status switch which prevents the signaller from changing the signals to green. The design of the new signalling equipment has been considered and approved by the Office of Rail Regulation’s Railway Safety Inspectorate. The procedures for use of this signalling system have been agreed between NIR and City of Derry Airport and have been audited and approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.’

Stations Work continues on the new station at Newry. This includes a new link road and 300 Park+Ride spaces. Work will be completed later this year.

Coleraine Borough Council is considering a ‘Masterplan’ for Portrush town. It proposes shortening the railway and moving the station approximately 250m away from the town ‘to open up the sea front for amenities along that section of the town’. Translink are awaiting further details relating to this proposal.

Track Geometry Measurement A test train consisting of CAF 3003 was fitted with track geometry measuring equipment. After testing between York Rd and Lisburn it operated at nights in June over all lines except Lisburn-Antrim. This included the recently re-laid sections on the Londonderry line, which it traversed on Tuesday 23 June. Its maximum speed during testing was 30-mph.

Wagons From 17 August, loaded and unloaded ballast hoppers are limited to 30-mph.


Mk IIf New ‘Gatwick’ Driving Van Trailer (DVT) 8918 was delivered to York Rd Depot on Friday 26 June. The Gatwick set ceased operation on 18 June when commuter traffic drops seasonally for the summer but had not resumed by early September.

80-Class Refurbished power car 8089 was delivered to York Road Works on Wednesday 8 July. Four-car set 8093 + 8094 was in service in June on the Larne line, but 80-class sets were not needed during July. Following refurbishment of 8090, it worked the following services on Thursday 20 August along with 8093:

16:25 GVS-Larne Town

17:43 Larne Town-Belfast Central

18:50 Belfast Central-Larne Town


NIR has placed an order with Officine Meccaniche BBM Spa, Rossano Veneto, Italy for a new hydraulic wheel press for York Rd Works: ‘NIR overhauls its own wheelsets using a 200t horizontal hydraulic wheel press. The existing press is now unsuitable as it is not able to accommodate the master and slave final drives fitted to the axles of the new DMU vehicles. NIR now require a 200t horizontal hydraulic wheel press suitable to accommodate wheelsets complete with axle mounted final drives for the fitting and removal of wheels and other axle mounted components’.

Planning approval is being sought for a new £15m train maintenance facility at the former Adelaide yard to cater for the 20 new trains on order from CAF. In August, Translink advertised for contractors to construct the new facility:

·  A new train maintenance building, approximately 5,100m2 incorporating one track for heavy maintenance and one for light maintenance

·  Fitting out of new maintenance building including all associated building and telecom services, 3 gantry cranes, train lifts, Controlled Emission Toilet facilities, etc.

·  Construction of new accommodation buildings and offices, approximately 400m2 as an annex to the new maintenance building.

·  Refurbishment of an existing Operations Building to provide new office accommodation for Operations and Shunting staff.

·  Construction of approximately 1,600m of new railway line to provide access into the depot and stabling for 10 3-car train units.

·  Construction of a new train wash.

·  Construction of a new train fuelling apron

·  Construction of new oil storage facilities, to accommodate approximately 160,000 litres of fuel oil / lubricating oil.

·  Construction of track interfaces with the main Belfast-Dublin line at both ends of the depot.

·  Construction of a new track crossover on the Belfast-Dublin line.

·  Installation and commissioning of signalling modifications to accommodate the above alterations, including modifications to the existing signalling panel at Belfast Central Station (note that these elements of the works will be undertaken directly by Translink but the main contractor will be responsible for managing the associated interfaces).

·  Construction of a new temporary footbridge over the depot access line at the northern end of the site.

·  Construction of a new materials storage area, approximately 20,000m2.

·  Demolition of a number of existing buildings to facilitate the above development’.

‘Contract programme - The anticipated contract programme is a maximum of 18 months duration (overall) starting in the 1st quarter of 2010. However, particular significance is attached to the need to deliver, as an interim milestone, the train stabling elements of the project by 31.3.2011. This is to facilitate stabling for the new trains in accordance with their planned delivery programme’.

Related to the project, NIR has advertised for the disposal in working order or for scrap of the Adelaide yard 50-tonne container gantry. The crane was manufactured by Aumund of Germany in 1989 and was last used in 2003.

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 170, published October 2009.

Copyright © 2009 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: October 30, 2009 .

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