Irish Railway Record Society

Home Up LUAS 171 Infrastructure171 Operations 171 Railcars 171 Rolling Stock 171 Stations 171 NIR News 171

Journal 171 - Infrastructure


Clonsilla-Pace Work on bridges has progressed well. By November, the new Royal Canal Bridge (UB284 at 610m) was largely complete and the farmer’s underpass UB285 at 688m had been replaced. By December, re-location of services and containment / strengthening measures were finished at Barnhill Road Bridge, OB286 at 1,689m, and the bridge re-opened. A large ‘lake’ had formed at a low point at this bridge preventing track laying and requiring two pumps to empty it. A new accommodation bridge OB286a has been constructed at Hilltown Stud at 2,450m. The new deck, diverted services and concrete traffic containment measures were in place at Stirling Road Bridge OB287 at 3,050m. One lane of traffic remained diverted over the trackbed at the main bridge at Dunboyne OB290 at 4,888m with the other lane still using the bridge. This allowed service, diversion, strengthening and containment work to take place. Bennetstown Bridge OB294 at 6,623m near Pace was demolished and will not be replaced. All underbridges had been replaced or upgraded.

Work on stations has also progressed well. Building, lift structure and footbridge construction at Hansfield was largely complete by November. Both platforms, station structural steel and lift shaft structures were in place in Dunboyne. At Pace, the lift shafts and station structure were largely in place by December.

The track bed was laid and prepared using road vehicles. Track laying commenced in October using road-rail equipment and starting at Hansfield station. New UIC54 rail was laid on concrete sleepers. This rail was clamped pending welding at a later stage. Ballast and sub-ballast were delivered by road vehicle.

On Wednesday 16 December, a 201-class locomotive was used to test the new Royal Canal Bridge at Clonsilla. Next day, 081 was the first locomotive to visit the Dunboyne line, propelling a rail train over the new track as far as Barnhill Rd Bridge beyond Hansfield station to drop long welded rail. It is believed that this is the first train to use the Navan line since GNR(I) 0-6-0 No. 181 was used on the lifting train in 1963. On Tuesday 22 December, 081 made another visit with the LWR train to drop rails on the Dunboyne side of Hansfield.

Pace-Navan In October, IÉ said that design work for Phase II Pace-Navan had commenced. An application for a Railway Order is expected to be lodged in mid-2011, following public consultation with residents, landowners and interested parties along the route. The preferred route is mostly on the alignment of the former Clonsilla-Navan line.


Weekend and weeknight possessions continued throughout the autumn to allow track and signalling work to be completed on the four track scheme from Cherry Orchard to Hazelhatch and on re-signalling the two tracks from Hazelhatch to Cherryville Junction. Bus substitution took place between Heuston and Newbridge / Kildare / Portarlington.

New multiple aspect signalling was commissioned between Caragh (Newbridge-Sallins) and the south end of Hazelhatch and new points were commissioned at Sallins on Sunday 27 September. The trailing crossover at the west end is now located on the Newbridge side of the platforms (See JOURNAL 170 for diagram). Plain track between the crossovers has also been re-laid. A new set of trap points replaced the ground frame at the south end of the loop. Signals were converted to three and four-aspect. Track circuits have been replaced by axle counters.

Looking left to right from the Dublin end, the final arrangement of the four tracks between Hazelhatch and Cherry Orchard is; down fast, down slow, up slow, up fast. The down fast was formerly the down track and the down slow was formerly the up line. Two new tracks have been constructed to the north.

The first section of ‘four tracking’ was commissioned at 23:32 on Sunday 1 November. To facilitate work there was a line closure from 20:00 the previous Friday with bus transfers to/from Portlaoise / Thurles / Portarlington / Carlow. New signalling on the former down line and the new up fast line was brought into use and the original up line was temporarily taken out of service. This left the two outermost tracks in service, with the two inner tracks under possession.

Work also included slewing the up line into the new up fast line at both Hazelhatch and Cherry Orchard ends. New high speed turnouts were also commissioned at each end but were not brought into use. The new signalling consists of four-aspect signals and CAWS (Continuous Automatic Warning System) on both tracks. Points were laid on concrete bearers (sleepers) and all signals are LED type controlled from CTC in Connolly. Axle counters are used throughout.

The following weekend saw crossovers installed connecting the down line to the down slow line at Cherry Orchard and the down slow to the down line at Hazelhatch.

Commissioning of the final scheme took place on Sunday 6 December. The line was handed over at 10:01 and the first train to operate over the down slow line was the 10:15 Heuston-Kildare.

The down fast line will be taken out of service for re-laying commencing in March. This is anticipated to take six months and will be followed by the down slow line.


Ennis-Athenry IÉ applied for planning permission to construct a new overbridge and associated roads for farm use in order to close level crossings XE185/6 at The Roo, Craughwell. The bridge deck of OB167 on the Athenry-Derrydonnell Rd was renewed between mid-September and mid-October. Decks have also been renewed and containment barriers installed on OB126, OB129, OB130, OB135 and OB158.

Containment barriers have been installed on approaches, parapets heightened, road surface improved and signs installed at the following bridges: OB91, OB93, OB102, OB111, OB116, OB118, OB160, OB162 and OB162. Parapets have been heightened, road surface improved and signs installed at OB75, OB134 and OB136.

Underbridge renewal has included: UB77 Upper Fergus River – deck renewed and piers strengthened, UB78 Tulla Rd – renewed with improved clearance and ‘culvert’ installed for pedestrians, UB86 and UB96 – public roads – renewed with improved clearances, UB100 Crusheen – deck jacked to improve clearance and bash beam installed, UB104 and UB106 cattle passes renewed, UB125 and UB145 culverts renewed and UB136 public road renewed. Strengthening, including installation of handrails, took place at a further 56 bridges.

Upgrade of the level crossing at Craughwell to four-barrier CCTV-type resulted in a temporary re-alignment of the main N6 Dublin-Galway Rd from Monday 31 August to Monday Tuesday 20 October. A temporary steel gated level crossing was installed for the duration.

A ballast train continued to be based in Ardrahan and Crusheen. 146 operated the train in the Ardrahan/Gort/Tubber area in September and October. Ballasting of the line finished in November and the ballast train with locomotive 146 stabled in Athenry cement siding on Thursday 12 November.

Upgraded level crossings were commissioned as four-barrier CCTV-type, controlled from Mallow LCCC:

XE  Name  Miles  Yards  Was  Date 
61 Curravorrin  25 1,555 U  04-Nov
71 Chipfield  30 520 U  03-Nov
98 Gortavogher  36 180 U  03-Nov
131 Castletown  44 336 U  23-Oct
136 Kiltartan  44 1,270 AHB  23-Oct
156 Ardrahan  49 75 AHB  21-Oct
194 Craughwell  55 880 AHB  20-Oct

All are protected by 2-aspect red/green colour light stop and yellow/green caution (distant) signals. Kiltartan up and Castletown down stop signals have a third aspect and act as a distant for the other crossing.

Signalling on the Ennis-Athenry section was commissioned at 16:31 on Sunday 8 November and it was restored as a running line. Earlier, 073 operated a signalling test train, running Athlone - Athenry - Ennis - Athlone. Gort loop was commissioned and signals at Athenry and Ennis were brought into use. Signals are controlled from the Galway Line PC ECP in Athlone and are prefixed GL. Axle counters are used throughout and CAWS is not provided. Down direction is from Limerick.

Gort has a conventional crossing loop (up side) with red/green starting signals on each road, a red/yellow/green home signal with route indicator and a yellow/green/yellow caution (distant) signal at each end. Both platforms at Gort are 90m long and wheelchair accessible lifts are provided to the footbridge.

Ennis has a banner repeater signal for its red/yellow/green up home. Athenry has a down yellow/green distant signal reading to a red/yellow/green outer home signal, which in turn reads to a red/yellow/green home signal. A shunt signal reads to the former cement siding. An up red/green advance starter is provided

Driver training commenced in November, but had to be suspended due to flooding. Timetabled services were scheduled to commence in January with five trains per day each way between Limerick and Galway, but were also deferred due to flooding (see below). The line speed limit is 60-mph and the best journey time is 1 hour 55 minutes using 2700-class commuter railcars. Competing express buses take 1 hour 30 minutes and run more frequently.

A full article on the line re-build will appear in a future JOURNAL.

Limerick-Ennis In October, Monday-Friday trains were cancelled between 08:50 and 16:10 to allow re-signalling work take place. ETS working and semaphore signals were taken out of use and colour light signalling between Limerick Check and Ennis was commissioned on Saturday 5 December. Consequently, Ennis signal cabin closed. Axle counters are used for train detection and CAWS is not provided. The section starting signal at Ennis is controlled from the Galway Line PC ECP in Athlone and is prefixed GL. Colour light signals protecting Singland crossing are now controlled from Limerick Check cabin.


Dublin-Cork The trailing crossover and points to the loop at the north of Ballybrophy were renewed during the line closure for commissioning the first of the ‘four tracking’ on 1 November. Points are laid on concrete bearers (sleepers).

Extensive work is taking place each night over the entire Dublin-Cork line. It is not uncommon for nearly every section to be under a possession most nights. Work includes excavation, re-laying, renewing drainage, installing a geo-textile membrane, replacing broken sleepers and renewing side worn rails. Consequently, the line has many speed restrictions and punctuality has suffered dramatically. Re-fettling work has been completed between Newbridge and Monasterevin and speed limits have been restored from 75-mph to 80/90/100-mph. 75-mph remains in force Monasterevin-Portlaoise on both tracks. Track re-laid includes MP42-47 up and MP45-47, MP122-124 down, MP119-121 up and the up line through Portlaoise.

Cork-Cobh/Midleton The long standing 10-mph speed limit at Woodhill has been lifted following opening of the new bridge to replace the level crossing (See JOURNAL 170).

Mallow-Tralee The locomotive release crossover under the canopy at Tralee station was removed on Monday 23 November and the buffer stop moved 80m towards Mallow to allow a road to be constructed to a new 60 space car park in the freight yard. ‘Run around’ is still available in the yard.

Portarlington-Athlone A new replacement turnout on concrete bearers was installed at the Athlone end of Geashill on Sunday 25 October. The turnout at the Dublin end of Clonnydonnin crossing loop has also been renewed using concrete bearers.

Limerick-Ballybrophy The speed limit on the section of track fully laid with CWR between MP35 and Killonan Junction MP521/2 has been raised to 50-mph, with some stretches at 40-mph. However, the speed limit over most of this section used to be 70-mph in the 1970s when it was all jointed track. The speed limit over the remaining sections (MP0-MP35) has been reduced to 30-mph.

Limerick-Waterford Re-laying with CWR on concrete sleepers continued in sections between Tipperary and Waterford during the autumn. 1.1 miles were re-laid. The 08:50 and 11:45 Limerick Junction-Waterford and 09:35 and 12:30 Waterford-Limerick Junction were partially substituted by bus.

Dublin-Waterford Dublin-Waterford trains did not serve Kilkenny station from Monday 9 until Wednesday 11 November to allow track alterations including temporary disconnection of the Sundries siding to facilitate straightening of the platforms and installation of a new footbridge and lifts.

Dublin-Rosslare Crossovers 113 and 114 at the south end of the platforms at Pearse were renewed over the weekend of 7/8 November. Trains were cancelled between Grand Canal Dock and Connolly.

Drogheda-Navan Both main and siding tracks between the Dublin-Belfast line and the first underbridge on the Navan branch in Drogheda station were re-laid when Tara Mines trains were cancelled following the collapse of Malahide viaduct. Crossover No. 87 which connected the West Loop to the East Branch and associated signals were removed, as they were no longer required following withdrawal of Platin cement trains. The turnout at the Navan end of the loop was also renewed.

Equipment In September, a Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV), No. 790, was delivered to the Infrastructure Department in Portlaoise.

Procurement IÉ has advertised for:

·            500-1,000 concrete bearers to support breather switches, insulated joints, bridge gatherer systems and through level crossings.

·            50-150 sets of adjustment / breather switch-rail sets and 400-1,200 cast base plates for use with them.

·            2,000 tonnes of rapid hardening Portland cement and 2,500 tonnes of washed sand per annum for Portlaoise sleeper factory.

·            Buffer stops - 150-200 required over 5 years.

·            Automatic brushing machine for rail end contact surfaces, automatic rail weld grinding machine and a rail weld straightness measuring beam for the continuous welding rail line in Portlaoise Depot.

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

Copyright © 2010 by Irish Railway Record Society Ltd.
Revised: January 04, 2016 .