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Journal 171 Operations

PASSENGER OPERATIONS  

Friday 18 September This was the last week of Mk III working on the 16.15 Dublin-Ballina, 216 + EGV + 6 Mk III.

Sunday 20 September Final regular scheduled passenger train Mk III workings took place. The 15:30 Westport-Dublin was worked by 216 + 6 Mk III + EGV. The set consisted of 7115 + 7143 + 7144 + 7157 + 7407 + 7168 + 7607. Later, 207 + EGV + 7 Mk III worked a 20:20 Dublin Heuston - Cork GAA special. The set consisted of 7614 + 7171 + 7404 + 7103 + 7120 + 7140 + 7149 + 7132.

Monday 21 September The last Mk III working was a 13:45 Dublin Heuston-Cork relief consisting of 219 + EGV + 5 Mk III. The set consisted of 7602 + 7168 + 7407 + 7157 + 7144 + 7143 + 7115. The train returned empty to Dublin from Cork.

Friday 25 September The first day of ICR operation of the 16:15 Dublin Heuston-Ballina was far from satisfactory, with passengers left behind in Dublin and many standing as the 190 seat capacity of the 3-car ICR (22017) was a big reduction from the 460 seats of the Mk III set the previous week. Passengers also had to change to a 2600-class railcar in Manulla Junction and the ICR worked empty to Westport. This was because ICRs had not yet been cleared for passenger operation Manulla-Ballina. Over-crowding also featured the following Friday when 3-car set 22021 worked the 16:15 Dublin-Manulla Junction. Passengers transferred to the 2600-class to Ballina, and the ICR worked empty to Westport.

Schedules were subsequently altered and the 16:15 was diverted to Westport with a connection at Manulla for Ballina. It also became a 2 x 3-car train.

Saturday 26 September The IRRS Cork-Midleton special was worked by 2703/04.

Monday 28 September ICRs now work Dublin-Cork services when Mk IV sets are unavailable. Usually a first-class 6-car set is provided but on occasion standard-class only sets are used. On this day the busy 16:00 Dublin-Cork was a 3-car ICR, which had no first-class or dining car.

Sunday 11 October The 07:00 Waterford-Claremorris and 17:35 return Knock special was worked by 22040.

Tuesday 4 November 8208 + 8 Mk IV worked the 18:05 Dublin Heuston-Portlaoise in place of the regular ICR.

Monday 16 November An 8-car 8100-class (LHB) DART operated for the first time in several months, most sets being 6-car. It was formed 8120 + 8132 + 8129 + 8105. 8-car sets became a regular feature of the new timetable.

Friday 4 December 3-car ICR 22016 worked the 11:30 Cork-Dublin and was severely overcrowded, as was the 3-car set working the 11:00 Galway-Dublin. 3-car set 22001 working the 13:15 Westport-Dublin was reported to have had over 60 passengers standing by Castlerea. The 12:30 Dublin-Westport merited 2 x 3-car ICRs.

Monday 28 December Replacement of what used to be a 460 seat Mk III by a 190 seat 3-car ICR caused overcrowding on the 13:15 Westport-Dublin. ICR 22015 had standing room only after Castlebar, the first stop en route. Ballina branch set 2709+2710 worked a relief to Athlone and this also had standing room only at Roscommon. Next day, 3-car 22026 on the 07:50 Rosslare Europort-Dublin had standing room only from Gorey.

Punctuality Figures for period 12 (2 Nov - 29 Nov) to within 10 minutes of schedule were: Rosslare 95.1%, Waterford 92.0%, Tralee 92.0%, Sligo 87.0%, Westport 86.0%, Galway 83%, Cork 73.6% and Limerick 72.6%. DART within 5 minutes of schedule was 95.23%.

FUTURE OF FREIGHT

Cement IÉ has ceased to carry any cement by rail with all now being moved by road. After over forty-five years, the last bulk cement train operated on Thursday 17 December. It was composed of 073 + 1 empty timber wagon + 10 empty cement wagons and ran 11:30 Waterford-Limerick. The last laden cement, 084 + 9 laden cement wagons + 2 empty timber wagons, worked 08:30 Limerick-Waterford on Thursday 10 December.

At its peak there were bulk cement depots in Cabra, Belfast, Cork, Sligo, Athenry, Waterford, Tullamore and in Athy for Tegral. In addition bulk cement wagons also operated to Rosslare and Portlaoise for direct delivery. Trains ran from Limerick and Drogheda factories.

Shale IÉ has also ceased hauling shale (large boulders) from Kilmastulla near Birdhill to Limerick cement factory. The last train operated on 18 December and was hauled by 171. This bulk traffic was transported by rail as a requirement of planning permission for the quarry in Kilmastulla. It now goes by road. Reports indicated that shale was once a very profitable traffic for IÉ as all handling was done by others.

Timber In November, there was a trial loading of cut logs (timber) onto a 45' ISO open container in Ballina. This was with the aim of transporting timber to Waterford on the DFDS liner. However, with issues regarding suitability of the container and costs, the trial did not proceed and the container was unloaded. The container ran to Waterford on Friday 11 December. One end of the container would have to be modified before it could be used.

Carryings With the withdrawal of cement and shale trains and the reduction in timber traffic this now leaves the following freight trains:

·            Tara Mines – 3 trains per day Navan-Dublin

·            IWT – 2 trains per week Dublin-Ballina

·            DFDS – 3 trains per week Waterford-Ballina

·            Timber – 2 trains per week Ballina-Waterford

Wagons The fleet of Container Pocket Wagons (CPW) has been overhauled in Limerick in advance of their deployment on the IWT Dublin-Ballina container train. They will carry 9’ 6” containers and have been cleared to operate between Portarlington and Ballina. The line between Kildare and North Wall has not been cleared for 9’ 6” containers on standard bogie wagons, although they have been carried on this route in the past.

 

FREIGHT AND DEPARTMENTAL OPERATIONS

IWT Timings The days of operation and timings of the IWT Dublin-Ballina container train (liner) from the November timetable are:

Mon & Thur  :Ballina 09:25 – North Wall 15:20

Tue & Fri : North Wall 10:55 – Ballina 16:57

Thursday 3 September 171 + 177 (dead) worked 1 wheel-carrier Limerick-Inchicore; 171 then worked 1 Tara wagon + 1 wheel-carrier Inchicore-Limerick. 087 + 18 laden wagons worked the 10:55 Dublin-Ballina IWT liner; 085 + 18 empty Barytes (spoil) passed Sallins at 11:30 working Portarlington-North Wall.

Monday 7 September 076 + 18 wagons (9 tanks + 9 MSC containers) worked the Ballina-Dublin IWT train passing Hazelhatch at 12:10.

Tuesday 8 September 074 + 9 cement + 3 timber wagons at the rear from Limerick Wagon Works worked Limerick-Waterford, crossing the 12:30 Waterford-Limerick Junction and being overtaken by 15:46 Limerick Junction-Waterford in Tipperary.

Tuesday 22 September 080 + 18 bogies (13 full of which 10 were MSC containers) worked the Dublin-Ballina IWT liner, passing Clondalkin at 12:25. 073 worked an LWR train Portlaoise-Edgeworthstown.

Wednesday 30 September 080 + 18 bogies worked the Ballina-Dublin IWT liner, passing Glasnevin Junction at 13:10.

Thursday 1 October 079 worked Limerick-Waterford with 8 cement + 4 timber wagons.

Tuesday 6 October 078 + 8 wagons worked an empty Waterford-Limerick cement; 082 + 18 laden wagons worked the Waterford-Ballina DFDS liner, while 081 + 18 bogies worked the Ballina-Waterford counterpart.

Wednesday 7 October 075 worked 2 bogie wagons of DART bogies from Inchicore to Fairview. Later, 073 + 18 barytes (9 laden with ballast + 9 laden with spoil) worked North Wall-Portarlington.

Wednesday 14 October 075 + 4 bogies worked a train with new points from Portlaoise to the Boston Sidings at Pearse. It returned to Portlaoise at 12:50 next day.

Friday 16 October 081 + 18 laden wagons worked the Dublin-Ballina IWT liner.

Saturday 17 October 084 passed Drumcondra at 09:40 with a laden ballast train from North Wall. It returned empty passing Adamstown up road at 11:45.

Tuesday 20 October 076 + 18 bogies departed North Wall at 10:45 with IWT liner for Ballina.

Wednesday 21 October 082 + 9 laden cement + 3 empty timber from Limerick Wagon Works worked 10:15 Limerick-Waterford.

Thursday 22 October 081 + 18 empty Barytes + 1 track panel passed Inchicore at 14:35 heading to North Wall. 076 worked the Ballina-North Wall IWT liner, switching locomotives at Inchicore with 071.

Friday 23 October 071 + 18 bogies passed Islandbridge at 10:47 with the Dublin-Ballina IWT liner. 152 worked one Shale round trip.

Friday 30 October 075 + 18 bogies passed Drumcondra at 10:50 with the Dublin-Ballina IWT liner. 080 passed Clonsilla at 15:15 with an empty LWR train heading towards North Wall, having dropped off rails at the Shannon Bridge at Drumsna.

Tuesday 3 November 075 worked a laden Barytes (spoil) North Wall-Portarlington. 080 was seen passing Stacumny Bridge at 14:50 with an empty LWR train, which worked from Drumsna the previous Friday. 086 + 18 bogies worked the 10:55 Dublin-Ballina IWT liner.

Thursday 5 November 084 worked a ballast train North Wall-Portarlington. 082 + 18 laden bogies worked the 10:20 Ballina-North Wall IWT liner, passing Cabra at 15:55.

Friday 6 November 075 + 18 bogies worked the 10:55 Dublin-Ballina IWT liner. 078 worked 2 bogies of wheels + 1 Tara 06:00 Limerick-Inchicore. 077 worked 1 wheel-carrier 10:05 Inchicore-Limerick. 144 + 2 DART bogie carriers + 1 bogie flat ran North Wall-Inchicore, returning with 1 Tara wagon and passing Glasnevin at 13:10.

Wednesday 11 November 082 worked a DART transfer Connolly-Inchicore with sets 8118 + 8106. It returned 13:05 Inchicore-Fairview with sets 8105 + 8124.

Thursday 12 November 081 + 8 bogies of concrete track panels worked Portlaoise-Platin, passing Drumcondra at 14:25. It stabled in North Wall overnight, departing at 09:00 next morning to test the re-built Malahide viaduct. 177 was working hard past Inchicore at 11:45 with 11 ballast hoppers and 2 plough vans heading west. It had been the Inchicore-Heuston staff ‘taxi’ in preceding days. 084 + 12 bogies worked the 16:40 Westport-Waterford laden timber.

Friday 13 November 175 + 2 CPWs (container pocket wagons) arrived in North Wall at 11:00 for a trial on for the IWT liner.

Monday 16 November 081 worked an empty panel train Platin-Portlaoise, passing Islandbridge at 09:55.

Wednesday 18 November 177+175 worked a laden ballast train North Wall-Portarlington.

Friday 20 November 079 + 18 laden bogies worked the 10:55 Dublin-Ballina IWT liner. 077 + 18 bogies worked the 07:55 Waterford-Ballina DFDS liner. 084 + 18 (17 full) worked the 08:15 Ballina-Waterford DFDS liner (Crossed at Portarlington with IWT). 177+175 worked an empty ballast train Portarlington-North Wall, passing Glasnevin at 13:25.

Tuesday 24 November 079 + 10 containers + 8 DANA tanks worked the 10:55 Dublin-Ballina IWT liner. 072 passed Donabate at 13:50 hauling a failed Enterprise (9004 / 8208). The failure was near Newry and 072 hauled the failed set back to Newry where the passengers were put on a bus.

Thursday 26 November 177+175 worked a ballast train North Wall-Portarlington. To free up space in Dundalk, 075 + 18 LK bogie container wagons worked Dundalk-North Wall for storage. 152 + 2 LX bogie wagons worked 07:00 Waterford-Tipperary and 086 + 2 LX Limerick-Tipperary. Locomotives were swapped over and each returned with 2 wagons. 085 + 10 cement wagons + 1 empty timber wagon worked 10:15 Limerick-Waterford.

Monday 30 November The first Tara Mines ore train since the Malahide viaduct collapse in August, 072 with 12 bogies, arrived at the Alexandra Rd terminal. A Tara spokesman told The Meath Chronicle that the company was delighted the rail service was up and running again as, logistically, the loading and unloading process was better when using trains.

152 + 3 empty timber + 10 empty cement operated 07:00 Waterford-Limerick.

Tuesday 1 December 084 + 18 wagons (8 containers + 20 empty tanks - 2 to each bogie) worked a DFDS Ballina-Waterford liner.

Thursday 3 December 081 + 1 rail wagon worked North Wall-Limerick Wagon Works, passing Islandbridge at 10:35. 177+175 departed Heuston Goods south with a laden ballast after having been stored there since the previous day due to signal problems at Sallins.

Friday 4 December 073 + 8 DANA tanks + 10 containers worked the 10:55 North Wall-Ballina IWT liner. 144 hauled tamper No. 751 Kildare-Portlaoise Traincare Depot at 11:40.

Tuesday 8 December 081 passed Cherry Orchard at 12:00 with a laden LWR train for the Navan branch. 079 + 18 bogies passed Cherry Orchard at 12:15 with the North Wall-Ballina IWT liner.

Thursday 10 December 084 + 9 cement + 2 empty timber worked 08:30 Limerick- Waterford.

Friday 11 December 072 + 18 bogies worked the 10:55 Dublin-Ballina liner. 081 + 11 bogies passed Cabra at 14:45 with Donelli re-lay gantry (No. 778) train for the Navan branch. It returned to Portlaoise on Monday.

Tuesday 15 December 144+152 shunted the IWT liner at North Wall. 072 later worked it to Ballina.

Tuesday 22 December 081 passed Islandbridge at 11:55 with a fully laden Barytes (spoil) train working North Wall-Portarlington. 081 made another visit to the Dunboyne branch with the LWR train to drop rails on the Dunboyne side of Hansfield. Next day it worked 09:15 empty North Wall-Portlaoise.

 

WEATHER WOES

Heavy rain throughout November resulted in significant flooding at various locations throughout the country, initially in the south and west but later spreading to the River Shannon catchment. All forms of transport experienced severe difficulties with, for example, the city of Galway completely cut-off for a period except for a train to Athenry. Many areas experienced the highest levels of flooding in living memory.

Railway operations first experienced difficulties after a minor landslip between Arklow and Gorey on Saturday 14 November, followed by concerns over the stability of an embankment just north of Inch, about 3 miles south of Arklow. The 11:35 Connolly-Gorey operated to Arklow, with bus transfer Arklow-Gorey, although the 13:05 Connolly-Rosslare Europort ran through before the line closed.

On Monday 16 November, the 04:10 Connolly-Arklow empty railcar, 4-car set 29026, ran into a large landslip of mud and a tree immediately south of Wicklow station. The leading vehicle 29426 was de-railed, but remained upright and the driver was not hurt. One unfortunate consequence was that passengers in Rathdrum were left isolated and uninformed that morning as there is no remote public address system or staff at that station. The Wicklow-Gorey section remained closed until the morning of Sunday 22 November. With the Arklow-Gorey section was still closed, 4-car set 29024 provided services between Rosslare and Gorey until Saturday 21 November when it was exchanged for set 29019 from Drogheda depot. Both ran empty via the South Wexford line, Waterford and Carlow, with 29024 stabling in Waterford over the Saturday night.

On Monday 16 November, DART services were cancelled for a period between Dún Laoghaire and Bray due to flooding at Sandycove.

On Wednesday 18 November, the Dublin-Sligo line was closed between Carrick-on-Shannon and Longford due to flooding and remained closed until 11 December. ICRs 22007 and 22018 were trapped in Sligo and provided a Sligo-Carrick-on-Shannon service.

Thursday 19 November brought very heavy rain on top of badly waterlogged ground. The River Lee experienced flows of over 900 tonnes/second – the equivalent of a Tara Mines train each second – instead of the usual 70 – 90 tonnes/second flows. The Limerick-Ennis line was closed from 12:30 to 17:00 due to a landslip. Railcars 2751+2753 were trapped in Ennis for several hours as a result. The line was closed again from 06:30 the following morning due to flooding and remained closed until 17:00 on Sunday 22th. A landslip closed the line at lunchtime next day. It re-opened for a short period on Tuesday 24th before closing due to flooding. There was flooding in Ennis station, which IÉ said was the first time this ever occurred. Several new point motors had to be replaced due to water damage.

Also on the 19th, full services operated on the Dublin-Cork/Limerick lines but with delays due to precautionary speed restrictions as a result of the flooding. Dublin suburban and DART services also experienced delays. The Athlone-Galway line was closed after the passage of the 11:10 Dublin-Galway due to flooding between Ballinasloe and Athenry. Substitute bus services also had to cancelled, as roads were impassable due to flooding. 3-car ICR 22012 operated Galway-Athenry and this was the only transport in operation out of Athenry that evening.

On Friday 20 November, 22012 operated 07:15 Galway-Athenry and 08:00 Athenry-Galway. Galway-Athlone re-opened at 14:45, but was closed between Athlone and Ballinasloe next day at 16:00. The River Suck broke its banks east of Ballinasloe station and the only way to access the station was by boat! Trains operated between Galway and Athenry/Woodlawn. The line re-opened at 16:30 on Monday 23 November. The 15:05 Galway-Dublin started in Athlone and was delayed awaiting bus transfers from Galway. However, due to flooded access roads, trains did not initially serve Ballinasloe station. The station re-opened next day but could only be reached by army lorries.

On Monday 23 November, DART services between Dún Laoghaire and Bray were suspended from 19:00 to allow for remedial works to take place on a retaining wall adjacent to the line south of Dalkey. As a result of the line closure 3-car ICR 22013 stabled overnight in Greystones, with a 2900–class and a 4-car 2800-class stabling in Arklow. The Arklow-Gorey section finally re-opened on the morning of Friday 27 November.

On Thursday 26 November, gauges in Athlone showed River Shannon levels at 39.2m, 500mm higher than the previous record. Lough Ree was almost 400mm above its record height at 39.5m. Gauges on Lough Allen were also reported at 4.28m, 300mm above the record from 2000, which saw the biggest flood in 40 years. Waterways Ireland said ‘We are now exceeding all known records’. Next day, this resulted in closure of the Athlone-Roscommon section due to water above rail level at MP82 near Kiltoom. Substitute buses were provided and the IWT and DFDS container trains were cancelled. The 16:40 Westport-Waterford laden timber ran only as far as Claremorris, where it terminated and was shunted to platform 3. The Longford-Carrick-on-Shannon and Limerick-Ennis sections were also still closed at this time.

The main N18 Galway-Limerick road at Kiltartan was under 3m of water and the newly completed WRC was flooded between Kiltartan and Castletown level crossings. IÉ announced that these floods caused the suspension of driver training and consequently the opening of the line.

The Athlone-Roscommon section re-opened on Monday 30 November after 073 operated light engine Athlone-Knockcroghery-Athlone to clear the line. From 1 December, bus transfers operated between Dromod and Sligo and this continued until Friday 11 December when the line re-opened.

On Wednesday 2 December, flooding affected axle counter equipment at Sallins on the Dublin-Cork line and as water levels rose the disruption got worse. Delays increased from 30 to 90 minutes to some of the evening peak commuter services.

As water levels slowly receded in the Shannon catchment area in mid-December the level rose in the Ballycar area of the Limerick-Ennis line where traditional flooding occurs. Flooding is due to a blockage where water from a lake passes underground into a river. The line remained closed, with estimates of a February re-opening being mooted. Services were suspended for 50 days in February and March 2008 after the same section of the line was flooded and this cost IÉ over 300,000 hiring substitute buses. By Christmas, the Limerick-Ennis section was still flooded, with water 10” above rail at Ardsollas and 17” above rail at Ballycar. However, levels had stopped rising.

Flooding at Kiltartan was still approximately 15” (375mm) above rail level by Christmas and signalling equipment had suffered damage. In December, ballast was deposited by train at MP82 at Kiltoom in order to raise the level of the line above flood levels. On Thursday 17 December, 146 hauled a ballast train from Roscommon to Kiltoom. It then ran to Athlone Midland and back to Ballyhaunis for re-loading.

Flooding also affected Bord na Mona operations near the River Shannon. Lough Ree and West Offaly Generating Stations had to reduce output and this continued well into December as BnM was unable to lay its ‘temporary’ track panels to access peat stockpiles on the bog. Later, in January when flooding had subsided road transport of peat to railheads for onwards rail transport to the generating stations was badly disrupted by snow and station output remained reduced.

Flooding at Hazelhatch delayed services on Thursday 31 December as a 5-mph speed limit was in place through the station. Snow and freezing conditions on 1 January resulted in severe disruption to transport services in the morning. Dublin airport was closed, Dublin Bus cancelled all services, as did Bus Éireann out of Dublin for a period. Most rail services were unaffected but there was some delay to trains in the Connolly and Pearse areas due to points failures, with a 1 hour delay to the 09:05 Dublin-Sligo. Trains continued to operate throughout the day while road transport was severely curtailed and motorists were advised not to travel.

Road and air travel continued to be badly disrupted daily in early January due to ice and snow, but rail services continued to operate when other modes had ceased. Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann services were subject to many cancellations, including complete withdrawal of all buses in Dublin on several occasions. Snow and ice affected all parts of the country and road travel was discouraged. For example, the Bus Éireann 06:30 Rosslare-Dublin bus ran to Wexford only, with passengers transferring to trains. Other road journeys examples included 5 hours from Dublin city to Portmarnock instead of 20 minutes by train and 8 hours Dublin-Portlaoise instead of 1 hour by train. As a result trains were well filled. On Tuesday 5 January, the 15:35 Dublin-Newbridge, 3-car ICR 22024, left many passengers behind in Heuston.

Dublin suburban and DART services were also in demand. On Wednesday 6 January IÉ said that ‘rush hour levels of demand have been experienced since 15:00 this afternoon’. The 16:30 Connolly–Wexford, 4-car 29010, experienced engine difficulty in Sydney Parade and caused delays. It was terminated and ran empty to Dún Laoghaire. At this time all Dublin Buses had been cancelled.

Staff dedication during the prolonged period of bad weather was also very notable. One DART driver who had to walk 7 miles in the snow at 06:00 to work said "If I don't go in to work, 500 or 600 people would be stuck and the knock-on effect would just be terrible. People depend on me". Measures taken by IÉ to ensure trains ran reliably included deployment of PW staff to keep points clear, keeping level crossings such as Clonsilla which is next to a humpback bridge clear and extra staff selling tickets in Dublin stations when buses were cancelled. Docklands station was closed from Wednesday 6 until Monday 11 January so that the points at Glasnevin Junction could be left set for the Connolly route and all Dockland trains ran to/from Connolly. However, there were some cancellations and failures, particularly on the Longford-Maynooth-Dublin route, due to weather reasons. On Wednesday 6 January, the 07:10 Dublin Heuston-Waterford was declared a failure on arrival in Waterford as it was operating on one engine out of three and there was no train heating. Its return working was a 2-car 2700-class to Kilkenny where 09:10 ex-Heuston split, with one set returning to Dublin. Later, the 2700-class operated empty back to Waterford. On Sunday 10 January, the 13:45 Tralee-Dublin was delayed by over 1 hour as points had to be cleared following heavy snowfall. At this time Bus Éireann had cancelled all Tralee-Cork and Tralee-Limerick(-Dublin) buses and Cork airport was closed.

As a precautionary measure to ensure reliability, IÉ temporarily suspended ‘splitting and joining trains during the day, as extreme cold conditions outside of the depot environment can expose the control and mechanical systems of train couplers to faults’. From Monday 11 until Thursday 14 January the 07:10 and 07:40 Waterford-Dublin were combined and operated to the latter schedule.

Driver training resumed between Athenry and Ennis on Monday 18 January after water levels had dropped at Kiltartan. Limerick-Ennis re-opened on Thursday 21 January.

The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 171, published February 2010.

Copyright © 2010 by Irish Railway Record Society Limited
Revised: March 04, 2010
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