Irish Railway Record Society
NEWS TRANSLINK - NORTHERN IRELAND RAILWAYS
TRANSLINK - NORTHERN IRELAND RAILWAYS
General Manager (Rail Services)
Mr Mal McGreevy, General Manager (Rail Services), has advised that he will be retiring in 2015. Mr McGreevy has responsibility for rail operations, engineering and maintenance of rolling stock and has overseen a period of unprecedented passenger growth and improvements in trains and rail services.
In November, the Department for Regional Development advised by way of public consultation note that its budget for 2015/16 would be reduced by £65m. They are seeking views on the proposals. The reduction for Translink (bus and train) could be £15m, equivalent to 20% of funding received. Translink Group Chief Executive David Strahan said that this reduction may lead to off-peak service reductions and reduced frequency on the Larne and Newry services.
NIR increased fares by an average of 4.5% from 16 February. This follows a fares freeze of almost two years
Passenger numbers on the Coleraine-Belfast line increased by a third between 2011/12 and 2013/14, equating to an increase of over 400,000 passengers journeys in three years and taking passenger numbers from over 1.2m in 2011/12 to over 1.6m in 2013/14. The Minister for Regional development Mr Danny Kennedy MLA said: “There has also been passenger growth on the Londonderry to Coleraine stretch of the railway network, and the completion of Phase 1 of the track re-lay on this stretch has played a key role in this … Across Northern Ireland rail passenger journeys have increased by approximately 2.5m over the period from 2011/12 to 2013/14.” The Minister welcomed the significant upturn in rail passenger growth. He said: “In recent years there has been a significant growth in numbers choosing to use the railway as a mode of transport across Northern Ireland.”
“The Railway Investment Prioritisation Strategy published recently sets out the priorities for my department’s investment in railways capital grant over the next 20 years. This includes proposals for upgrading the Coleraine to Belfast corridor. My first priority is track maintenance and the improvement of passenger capacity on the existing network. The strategy includes a number of projects on the Northern line between Coleraine and Belfast for track works, station improvements and Park + Ride facilities. As passenger demand increases, Translink plans to purchase up to 60 additional carriages which will allow the introduction of longer trains or additional services to extend passenger capacities, including on the Northern line.”
“The capacity of the Northern line to carry more trains will depend upon removing potential track bottlenecks around Belfast. There are proposals for dualling [sic] of the single track crossing of the Lagan at Dargan Bridge and adding an additional line from Lagan Junction to Central Station. This will help improved timetabling of services into Belfast. In the longer term, the Strategy commits Translink to consider options to enhance timetabling and shorten journey times on the Northern line by either dualling [sic] the existing single line track between Bleach Green and Antrim or re-opening the Antrim to Knockmore/Lisburn line.”
Belfast-The Border On Thursday 9 October 8113 ran light engine to Antrim where it picked up
loaded ballast hoppers. The train ran via the Antrim-Lisburn line to Lisburn,
dropping ballast at locations en-route to Poyntzpass, where the wagons were
left. The locomotive then ran light engine to York Rd. On Sunday 12 October 8113 worked a ballast train Lisburn-Poyntzpass,
dropping ballast between Lurgan and Portadown.
On Sunday 2 November 8112 ran light engine
York Rd-Poyntzpass where it picked up loaded ballast wagons. It ran to Portadown
and returned to Poyntzpass where it left the wagons for re-loading. 8112 then
ran light engine to York Rd. A further train operated on Sunday 9 November when
8112 operated two trips to Lisburn.
On Thursday 4 December 8112 + 6 ballast
hoppers worked Poyntzpass-Dundalk and return. They departed Dundalk at 12:37
after a 20 minute run around.
Lisburn-Antrim In October NIR ballast tamper and ballast regulator operated on the
branch following ballast drops earlier in the year. They were based in Lisburn
for this work.
From 17 January the loops at Crumlin and
Ballinderry have been taken out of service and removed. There are now no
crossing places between Antrim and Lisburn.
autumn Sandite programme again used the sole remaining 80-class railcar. The
train was the same as last year and consisted of 8069+8097+8752+8094, with
Sandite dispensed from 8097. Trains started on the evening of the 28 September
with runs to Portadown, Bangor, Carrickfergus and Antrim. Daytime runs started
on 6 October. The daytime route was York Rd -Portadown – Bangor – Belfast
– Carrickfergus - York Rd. The
train operated reliably during the season.
Cost Estimates In November the Minister for Regional Development told the Assembly that
cost estimates for the second phase of the Coleraine-Derry upgrade project had
risen from £20m to an estimated £40m. He said that Translink had previously
used figures that were "not based on fact".
On 14 November Translink Chief Executive
David Strahan told staff “You may have seen coverage of the recent statement
by the Minister for Regional Development in relation to 'Phase 2' of the work to
re-lay the rail line between Coleraine and Londonderry. This week I attended the
Committee for Regional Development to give some background. I reiterated our
commitment to the Derry rail line – we want to see it fully re-laid and
modernised. We successfully completed the first phase of the re-lay on time and
on budget and many thousands more passengers are travelling on the line. It is a
real success story and our priority is to deliver an hourly train service.”
Figures showed that the annual number of passengers on the line has increased by
630,000 since 2002.
The Committee for Regional Development held
a meeting in Derry in January to review the issue. The committee was told that
there had been only a single response to the original tender but that 4
contractors had now expressed an interest.
At the meeting Translink said that
“subject to the successful completion of a tender process, work on phase 2 of
the project to re-lay the railway line between Coleraine and Derry is expected
to commence in May 2015.”
Procurement Accordingly in November, NIR issued a new enquiry for the “provision of
signalling and telecom design and build services for the
Coleraine-Derry~Londonderry Renewals Project Phase 2…”
“A Route Relay Interlocking system is to
be designed and constructed along the 33.5 mile long single line route. A new
passing loop will be designed and constructed at Bellarena Station. The existing
passing loop at Castlerock will be removed and replaced with a plain line
section of track. There are currently three signal boxes on this railway line.
All signalling control is to be consolidated into the Coleraine Signal Box and
the existing signal cabins at Castlerock Station and at Derry~Londonderry
Station will be closed under this scheme.”
“A number of User Worked Crossings along
this railway line have warning times below those recommended in the Railway
Safety Principles Guidance. Under this project, the arrangements at the User
Worked Crossings will be made compliant with the Railway Safety Principles
Guidance document by the provision of designed Signalling and Telecoms
“The anticipated design period is from
April 2015 until March 2016. The anticipated construction period is from October
2015 until December 2016. Throughout the construction period, the timetabled
train services will operate on the Coleraine to Derry~Londonderry line. The
majority of construction activities will take place during overnight engineering
possessions in ‘Green Zones’ supplemented by some daytime works in ‘Red
Zones’. Periods of weekend possession may be available for identified weekend
periods and a ten day closure period during the testing and commissioning
“… A third party is to be employed by
NIR to design and construct the civil engineering and permanent way works
associated with the passing loop at Bellarena and for the removal of the
existing passing loop at Castlerock.”
“The estimated value, excluding VAT, of
the project is in the region of £30m.”
GVS Transport Hub Translink has invited the public to contribute ideas to aid the design
of the new hub. They expect Enterprise
traffic to increase with journey times being reduced by 10 minutes when the
service moves to GVS.
Carriage Refurbishment Procurement work continued for the Enterprise
refurbishment project. NIR advertised for the provision of powder coating
services for table legs, luggage racks, door standback grab poles, glass
partition frames and seat back stop rails. NIR also advertised for fabricated
components for the following main areas: upgraded toilet area, upgraded Catering
Cars, new table legs and brackets in each Catering Car, interior trim items and
other ad hoc fabrications.
Part of the refurbishment work includes the
supply of equipment for the overhaul of the Catering Cars. NIR advertised for
the following items of refrigeration equipment: Display type double compartment
full height unit, under counter half height type and portable galley area units.
Another tender covered catering equipment: 6 slot toaster, 8 slot toaster, water
boiler, medium duty grill, Salamander grill, Merrychef E3 Oven (or equivalent),
dry heat Bain Marie, bean to cup coffee machine, single Panini grill, microwave
oven, 4 ring electric hob and an option to provide service contract for an
initial 3 year period for all equipment.
Prostyle Ltd., Coventry, has been awarded a
contract for seat refurbishment and upgrade. David Rees Ltd., Ashbourne, Co.
Meath has been awarded a contract to refurbish 112 Tebel passenger and baggage
access doors, 52 Weiner vestibule doors and 24 GEZE toilet doors. A contract for
the supply of body side window blinds has been awarded to Georges Halais
Equipement, Moranqis, France.
Contracts for refurbishment/re-engineering
of existing pelmet panel and luggage racks and for supply of new steel/aluminium
centre ceiling/lighting diffuser assemblies have been awarded to Teknoware Oy,
Carriage refurbishment work is now underway
at York Road with IÉ refurbishing locomotives in Inchicore as noted elsewhere.
In December 9204 was observed being shunted at York Road. It was in the new
livery and also carried European Vehicle Number (EVN) 50 70 2892040-7.
A new timetable was introduced on 17
November, which NIR stated was “in order to improve capacity and service
frequency. The changes have been introduced in time to accommodate Christmas
shoppers travelling by train at weekends.”
services were also adjusted. With the withdrawal of one De Dietrich set for
refurbishment an IÉ 5-car Premier-Class 22000-class ICR now operates one link.
To ensure this set returns for inspection and maintenance on IÉ each night and
to avoid having to train NIR crews, a change was made in the last service from
Belfast to Dublin. The 20:10 Belfast-Dublin has been deferred to 21:35 to allow
it be formed by the 19:00 Dublin-Belfast. The ICR link is 07:35 Dublin-Belfast,
10:35 Belfast-Dublin, 13:20 Dublin-Belfast, 16:05 Belfast-Dublin, 19:00
Dublin-Belfast and 21:35 Belfast-Dublin. The ICR then works empty to Drogheda at
00:05 for maintenance and inspection, returning from Drogheda at 05:20.
The Sunday Enterprise
timetable was radically re-cast. Departures from Dublin are now at 10:00 (ICR),
12:00, 14:00, 16:00 (ICR) and 19:00 instead of 10:00, 13:00, 16:00, 18:00 and
19:00. Departures from Belfast are at 09:00, 11:05, 13:05 (ICR), 16:05, and
19:05 (ICR) instead of 10:00, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 19:00.
IÉ ICR sets 22036 - 22039 have been fitted with AWS, TPWS and NIR train radio to work this link. In advance of their introduction onto the Enterprise service, 5-car ICR 22036 operated a trial 07:30 Dundalk-Belfast Central and 10:10 return on Sunday 5 October to test these systems. Set 22037 was trialled on Sunday 19 October. Set 22039 operated a trial Connolly-Central and return on Wednesday 28 January.
The 76 De Dietrich First-Class seats
arranged 2 + 1 have been replaced by 36 Premier seats arranged 2 + 2 in the
ICRs. This reduction in both quantity and quality of the first-class offering
has generally not been favourably received by regular business travellers. The
number of standard class seats has also been reduced from 302 to 258, noticeable
on already full trains such as the 10:35 Belfast-Dublin on Saturdays.
some Saturdays during the run up to Christmas reliefs were provided to the 10:35
Belfast-Dublin, but later changed to the 08:00 Belfast-Dublin instead. On
Saturday 6 December 3-car CAF 3003 operated a relief ahead of the 08:00
Friday 14 November heavy rain resulted in disruption to transport services. The
Belfast-Dublin line was closed by flooding between Portadown and Newry which
affected signals. Bus transfers operated Belfast-Newry. The line remained closed
until the afternoon of Monday 17 November and speed restrictions remained in
place for some time afterwards at Tanderagee MP821/2-823/4
and at Brackagh Bog MP85-851/2.
Safety Prosecutions NIR said that between July 2013 and July 2014 78 prosecutions cost
offenders nearly £17,500 in fines and costs. The majority of these were due to
motorists ignoring warning signals at level crossings or attempting to ‘beat
the barrier’ at a level crossing as the warning lights were flashing or the
barriers were descending. Ian Campbell, Head of Rail Operations at Translink,
said “While the overall number of safety related incidents in the past 12
months is comparable to previous years, the total cost to offenders has more
than doubled in the past year. With an average cost of around £225 and the
largest amount being £669, these are significant amounts of money for an
average motorist… Our CCTV cameras which are located at the majority of
crossings throughout the network capture high quality footage which has been
successfully used as evidence in several level crossing misuse prosecution
Dismissal Hearing An unfair dismissal tribunal hearing found
that a train driver lodged his appeal outside the permitted time but that it
would have found against him anyway. The driver had been dismissed for
"gross misconduct" after his train passed a signal at danger (SPAD)
while he was standing up away from the controls using an electronic tablet
between Adelaide Depot and Great Victoria Street in January 2013. He had been
charged with four incidents of gross misconduct, including driving a train in a
dangerous manner, endangering others by ignoring safety rules and unacceptable
behaviour likely to bring Translink into disrepute.
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