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Over recent years the Heuston-Kildare line has become extremely busy with passenger trains, especially at peak periods. The Mainline CTC system commissioned in the 1970’s was not designed to cater for the number of trains now running with, for example, only one set of intermediate signals between the fringe cabin at Inchicore and Hazelhatch (MP10).

Heuston station has only five platforms and is extremely restrictive, with many trains being held outside the station waiting for an empty platform. Platform 1 is short, not covered by the overall roof and is some considerable length from the main concourse. It is primarily used by Arrow railcars on the Kildare service, although it also has to be used for loco hauled movements at certain periods. Platforms 2 and 5 are full length for existing nine-carriage Mk III trains plus locos. Platforms 3 and 4, which were installed in 1972 when Galway and Westport train departures were transferred from Pearse, will just about take full-length trains if the driver pulls up tight to the buffer stop, but not with a loco at each end. Accordingly, it is often not possible to attach locos to outgoing trains on platform 4 until after the departure of a train from platform 3 and vice versa, with consequential affect on punctuality.

The signalling system in Heuston consists of IÉs last miniature frame mechanical interlocking with colour light signals and dates from the 1930s. It requires significant resources to maintain in safe operation and is life expired. An entirely new system was recommended by safety consultants IRMS.

The current €117 million project will see the number of platforms increased from five to nine, platforms lengthened, re-modelled track, new signalling and concourse improvements. Three new sets of intermediate signals between Inchicore and Hazelhatch will provide extra capacity, with Inchicore and Heuston cabins both closing. When complete, all signals and points will be controlled from Mainline CTC in Three additional platforms, nos. 6, 7 and 8, will be constructed outside the confines of the existing overall roof in the area formerly occupied by sidings and the car park. There is no platform 9. Platform 10 has been constructed on the North Wall branch between Islandbridge Junction and Liffey Bridge JunctionConnolly.

. It can be accessed from both Inchicore and Connolly directions, but signalled departures made only towards Inchicore.

Trains will be routed to new platforms 6, 7 and 8 via the north side of the existing Valeting Plant. Existing platforms 4 and 5 will be accessible from either side of the Valeting Plant. The ‘Third Road’ between Heuston and Inchicore becomes a bi-directionally signalled running line and is re-titled to the ‘up and down branch’. There will be three bi-directionally signalled lines between Heuston and the entrance to Inchicore Works, with high-speed crossovers installed for extra flexibility. At the west end of Inchicore at Kylemore Road bridge there are further high-speed crossovers and these are the limit of bi-directional signalling.

The completion date for the entire scheme is April 2003. Phase I sees the commissioning of new track and signalling covering the Liffey Branch at Heuston, through Inchicore to the existing Mainline CTC system at Hazelhatch. An additional platform will be brought into use as noted below. For Phase II, which lasts until the end of September, fencing has been erected to enable construction of the extra platforms without disruption to trains. Existing platform 5 will be taken out of use to allow it to be extended and new Platforms 6, 7 and 8 will be brought progressively into use. Platform 4 will be temporarily shortened but remain in use. Heuston signal cabins closes at the end of Phase II. During Phase III, existing Platforms 1, 2 and 3 will be taken out of use for track alterations and re-building.

Installation Progress 
Installation of track and signalling continued on schedule, with possessions nearly every weekend. On Friday 11 January, the points at Liffey Bridge Junction (at the mouth of the Phoenix Park tunnel) and the two roads known as the North Wall Loops were taken out of use. The following weekend a new pair of parallel crossovers, nos. 771/772, was installed, but not connected up, in their place. In addition, access to the goods yard and the current Guinness sidings was removed for the intervening week to allow track alterations, with Guinness traffic temporarily transferred to North Wall. The Guinness sidings were completely renewed at the Islandbridge Junction end, as were all points and crossovers. Associated signals were modified or removed as appropriate.

The final track installation for this phase consisted of a pair of crossovers, nos. 704 and 705. These were installed during the closedown over St. Patrick’s Holiday weekend, as they required track to be slewed in the vicinity of the new staff footbridge (OB 5) at the site of the old staff platform at Inchicore.

There are now three tracks instead of the original four between Liffey Bridge Junction and Islandbridge Junction, with the new platform, no. 10, constructed partially on the site of one of the former North Wall Loops. It is envisaged that this platform will be used primarily by railcar services on the Kildare line, although it can and will be used by all trains.

This area is also the location for the new Heuston Signal Equipment Room (SER) containing the new Solid State Interlocking and Westcad signalling system. The latter will control new signals and points in the Heuston and Inchicore areas pending completion of all works and transfer to CTC in Connolly station. The Westcad system has four VDUs in a dedicated room in the SER. An additional VDU, transferred from Heuston cabin, shows the interface tracks with the Connolly West CTC system that covers Connolly to Liffey Junction, Glasnevin Junction and Cabra. On this, the Heuston SER signalman can see the identification code of trains approaching from Glasnevin Junction. The Heuston SER signalman also has a terminal to enter the code of trains departing his area of control into the Mainline CTC system. He is also able to transmit and receive bell codes from Heuston Cabin.

Adjacent to the signalman’s room is the room containing two Solid State Interlockings (SSIs), which control all movements. One is for the signals and points commissioned so far in Heuston and the other is for Inchicore. A third will be fitted to cover the remainder of Heuston. This room also contains the CAWS generation equipment, which is also solid state. At the Phoenix Park tunnel end of the complex is the standby-diesel generator room.

The IÉ Weekly Circular describing these works in January noted definitions of up and down lines for the former GS&WR branch, which have been in regular use on IÉ in recent years, but are in variance with historical practice. IÉ now define ‘down branch’ direction as referring to trains travelling from Glasnevin Junction to Islandbridge Junction. Mileposts remain unaltered and read from zero at Islandbridge Junction. This JOURNAL will use the new IÉ definitions in future reporting.

Platform and Sidings Construction 
During March, work commenced on extending platform 1. It was extended to 160-metres in length. From 8 April, the main yard (between the Valeting plant and the car park) was taken out of use completely to allow construction commence on Platforms 6, 7 and 8. The only siding left available on the river Liffey side of the Valeting plant was the siding known as ‘Billy Brown’s Road’, which was originally against the north wall of the Valeting plant. This siding was re-located three metres towards the river and was connected only at the Islandbridge Junction end. A fence was erected to separate the main worksite from the running lines. This allowed work to proceed uninhibited by train movements and is known as ‘Green Zone’ working.

Replacement sidings on the down side of the running lines adjacent to St. Johns Road were commissioned, but nevertheless, there was a significant reduction in storage space available. The replacement sidings contain storage for one 9-carriage and one 8-carriage Mk III set, plus a small siding capable of holding three carriages. The recently renewed Guinness sidings, now connected to the ‘up and down branch’ and controlled by the Heuston SER, remained in use.

Subsequent Alterations 
Platform 10 was brought into use on Friday 19 April with the first train being the 13.35 Dublin-Tralee, 075 + 4 Cravens + GSV. The first arrival was the 11.15 Fridays Only Cork-Dublin, which in turn formed the 15.55 Dublin-Ballina. As a consequence, the Guinness pilot, 170, was trapped in the sidings and the 12.05 North Wall-Cork liner was unable to pick up any Guinness wagons. It is expected that these Fridays Only trains will be the only trains to use the platform initially.

The new platform is approximately one kilometre from the existing concourse. It is 190 metres long, equivalent to a 201-class loco + 7 Mk III or an eight-car railcar. No trains or rolling stock are allowed to be left unattended at this platform. A train loco must not be detached until another loco or the pilot loco has attached to the rear. There is a passenger information indicator on the platform, similar to those in use in the DART area. Following on from the experiment at Grand Canal Dock station, it features white rather than red LEDs. There is also a ticket office and toilet facilities in temporary structures. Rudimentary shelters are provided against the elements.



Malahide viaduct is exposed to the vagaries of tide and wind. During late February and early March, additional rock and concrete fill was added to provide additional protection against the elements. A 5-mph speed limit was in force during the work.

The footbridge at Sheriff Street level crossing in North Wall was removed on Thursday 21 February. The cast iron railings on the up side of the viaduct in Balbriggan were restored and renewed during the spring.

Work has commenced on a new overbridge between Coolmine and Porterstown level crossings on the Dublin-Clonsilla section of the Sligo line. The bridge also will span the Royal Canal and the road will be known as Blanchardstown Road South Extension. It is hoped that this new road and bridge will relieve traffic congestion through the adjacent level crossings.

Work on the €20 million project to replace the existing bridge over East Wall Road and the River Tolka commenced over the Easter Weekend. It resulted in closure of the line between Connolly and Clontarf Road from 11.00 on Good Friday to 16.30 on Easter Monday to facilitate the first phase of works. The work will necessitate 12 weekend closures, with the bridge to be completed by the end of September 2002. Weekday trains will not be affected by the works.

East Wall Road Bridge is the most struck bridge in the country, suffering 104 bridge strikes by high vehicles since 1985, with 53 of these occurring since 1998. The clearance of the old bridge is 4.57 metres. The repeated strikes, together with other lesser 'scrapes', have resulted in a requirement to replace the structure to ensure the continued safe operation of rail services over the bridge. Services were also disrupted after each bridge strike while bridge inspections were carried out. There is also provision in the new bridge for an extra line to provide for future DART and suburban expansion.

During the Easter closure, an hourly regular interval DART service was provided from both Malahide and Howth to Clontarf Road. The Malahide departures were at ten minutes to each hour, while the Howth departures were at half past the hour. An hourly regular interval Drogheda-Clontarf service operated at 40 minutes past each hour from Drogheda and 35 minutes past each hour from Clontarf Road. Bus connections were provided to Tara Street, not calling at Connolly. Normal services operated between Connolly and Bray / Greystones. Enterprise services operated normally between Drogheda and Belfast with bus substitution to and from Connolly. A similar service operated over the May Public Holiday weekend. Details of further weekend closures have been published by IÉ.

Work undertaken during the Easter closure included removal of all connections from Fairview DART depot at the south end, as well trailing crossover number 114, north of East Wall Junction. The result was that DART trains had to use the north connection to Fairview, with some resultant delay to trains. A 20-mph permanent speed restriction was introduced to accommodate construction work for the bridge and the adjacent Dublin Port Tunnel.

There was a small local protest when work commenced on Saturday morning by residents who were objecting to a new 6-metre high retaining wall. IÉ agreed to reduce the height of this wall when work was completed.

Bridges renewed during track renewal on the Athlone-Westport line included OB784 at 156 miles 594 yards on 7 January, OB791 at 158 miles 1720 yards on 9 January and UB793 at 159 miles 594 yards on 16 January. Also renewed were OB105 at 45 miles 1308 yards on the Mallow-Tralee line on 13 February and OB 596 at 128 miles 1186 yards on the Dublin-Sligo line on 16 April.

Copyright © 2002 by Irish Railway Record Society Ltd.
Revised: January 04, 2016 .