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Whitehead Operations: WT-class No. 4 worked the Steam Enterprise on 4 June 2017, working both ways.

Friday 9 June 2017: 4 worked the “Steam and Jazz” Whitehead – Lisburn and return

Friday 23 June 2017: 85 worked the second “Steam and Jazz” special, as the 18:14 Whitehead – Lisburn and 20:35 return

GM 142 has undergone body repair work and is currently awaiting painting (August 2017).

Dublin Operations: To mark 170 years of Howth, three return trips from Dublin Connolly were operated on 28 May 2017. The first two trips utilized 461, whilst the last used 85 Merlin. On all three journeys, Irish Rail 071-class loco 088 was used to bring the train back to Dublin Connolly due to the lack of run around facilities at Howth.

85 Merlin was used for the “Midland Compound” trip to Maynooth on 3 June 2017. This was preceded by a light engine run to M3 Parkway to address the issues brought up during the run south in May. The loco was declared fit for traffic.

4 was declared a failure before the Enniscorthy trip on Sunday 8 August 2017. Irish Rail GM 077 was used as a replacement at short notice. The Radio Train to Kilkenny on Sunday 20 August was also due to be diesel hauled, but was cancelled before operating.

Steam Dreams: The final year of the current 3-year contract between the RPSI and Steam Dreams got underway on Wednesday 14 June 2017, when IÉ loco 075 headed south to Wexford light engine. Steam Loco 4 transferred south from Whitehead on Sunday 11 June 2017. The tour this year visited Rosslare, Killarney, Tralee, Westport, Ballina, Whitehead and Bangor, using all three currently active locomotives as well as both sets of carriages and mainline diesels from the two operators.

Thursday 15 June 2017: 461 worked the 11:35 Dublin Connolly – Rosslare, with IÉ GM 075 working the return at 16:10. Loco 224 worked the Cravens empty from Inchicore.

Friday 16 June 2017: 85 worked 09:35 Dublin Connolly – Killarney, coming off the train at Thurles to use the Limerick Junction triangle to turn.

IÉ GM 084 worked the train from Thurles to Limerick Junction, where 85 was re-attached.

461 worked light engine 11:00 Wexford – Dublin Connolly

Saturday 17 June 2017: 85 worked the 15:20 Killarney – Tralee and 17:25 return.

Sunday 18 June 2017: 85 worked the 08:20 Killarney – Westport as far as Portarlington, where 4 took over due to route clearance issues regarding 85, as well as giving something different. 4 had worked light engine from Dublin Connolly at 10:15. 85 then worked light engine back to Dublin Connolly.

Monday 19 June 2017: 4 worked the 09:00 Westport – Claremorris, 11:55 Claremorris – Ballina, 14:25 Ballina – Claremorris and 16:10 Claremorris - Westport

Tuesday 20 June 2017: 4 worked the 07:45 Westport – Dublin Connolly, concluding the Southern section of the tour.

NIR GM 112 worked the Mark 2 set from Whitehead, departing at 09:36 and returning light engine at 14:50. 85 worked the Mark 2’s back north at 14:45.

Wednesday 21 June 2017: 85 worked the 09:05 Whitehead – Belfast Central, 10:33 Belfast Central – Bangor, 11:45 Bangor – Portadown and 13:50 Portadown - Whitehead

NIR GM 112 then finished the tour by working the 17:45 Whitehead – Dublin Connolly, returning north at 22:20.

IRRS Tour: The annual IRRS tour was run on Saturday 12 August 2017, featuring 075, 227 and 085 for the trip to Howth and Sligo. Originally booked to be 081 from Dublin Connolly to Howth and Sligo, this was declared a failure before departure and 075 used instead. As further issues prevented it going to Sligo, 085 was brought light engine from Inchicore to work to Sligo. 227 was used to bring the tour from Howth back to Dublin Connolly, due to the lack of any run-around facilities at Howth.

Locomotive News: The overhaul of GM No. 134 has commenced at Inchicore. The loco was lifted from it’s bogies to allow the removal and overhaul of the traction motors.


Other Railways


Operation: The Dublin Connolly – Waterford – Muine Bheag – Dublin Heuston section on Sundays and Mondays are now booked 071 workings. These are the first passenger turns since 2009 to be booked for 071 traction.

Observed working this diagram were: 077 (28 May), 071 (4 June), 075 (18 June), 080 (25 June), 081 (1 July), 076 (31 July), 080 (13 August) and 087 (20 August), the date referring to the Sunday working.

On 24 June 2017, Enterprise loco 8208 worked the Dublin Connolly – Belfast Central – Dundalk and Dundalk – Dublin Connolly leg the following day, instead of the booked dedicated loco 216.



Railtours Ireland continue to expand the portfolio of tours around the country. A new tour was launched in the summer of 2017.

The new tour is a 3-day trip, involving travelling to Titanic Belfast and the Hills of Donegal. The three day tour involves rail travel to Belfast and onwards to Derry / Londonderry. This is then combined with a coach tour of the Donegal hills before returning to Dublin via Sligo. The three day tour appears to be popular.




Loco Refurbishment: A batch of 50 twelve-tonne locos are currently being overhauled and rebuilt at Derrygreenagh works. The redesign incorporates a new engine, new cab (with a door each side), improved sound insulation and an electronic control and maintenance diagnostic system. The new locos are painted in a brown colour scheme, with the company name and number in flames (representing the bog and burning of the peat). It is unclear whether these have been fitted with the multiple working and remote control system that went to tender and was described in Journal 192.

The locos include various versions of the third generation of Hunslet locos and Bórd na Móna built hydraulic locos.



The Downpatrick and County Down Railway has restored the Bundoran North Junction Signalbox. In its working life, the cabin used to control the north end of the triangular Bundoran Junction in Kilskeery, County Tyrone, formerly a major junction for the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) network. Trains, including the famous 'Bundoran Express' diverged here to places like Omagh, Enniskillen, Fintona Junction (where the famous horse tram operated the half-mile Fintona branch), and the seaside resort of Bundoran itself, before the entire line was closed on 30 September 1957, nearly sixty years ago. The cabin was formally opened to the public by veterans of the old GNR(I) Railway on Saturday 3 June 2017, along with other invited guests. The box is not yet operational and no timescale has been set for this.



Branch Line Society: On Saturday 20 May 2017, the Branch Line Society paid a visit to the railway as part of their Irish long weekend. Unusually for the railway, the train was diesel hauled throughout by the former ESB Portarlington No. 4 “Rusty”.

Diesel Haulage: Due to issues with Number 2 / LM44, No. 4 “Rusty” was used during the June Bank Holiday (4/5 June 2017) and performed faultlessly, giving the rare chance for diesel haulage on a normal day. This was followed by a private photo charter on Tuesday 18 July 2017.

Steam Rally: The 53rd Annual Steam Rally was held over the bank holiday weekend, with the railway operating on 5, 6 and 7 August 2017. Number 2 performed faultlessly over the three days.

Locomotives: Work on the Gardner-engined Ruston, LM167, has carried on. The engine oil sump was removed in July, allowing for a full clean out of many years of accumulated dirt. This is in addition to cleaning the frames to remove the turf that has built up over the years. Simplex LM317 has also been receiving attention, mainly to the bodywork.



The Sligo, Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway finished running in 1957, although major parts of the track bed are still usable. A new group, the Sligo Leitrim and Northern Counties Rail Trail Group, are proposing to turn the route into a greenway, starting with a 4.2km-long from Manorhamilton to the Sports Ground in Boggaun. This is designed as a demonstrator to prove the value of it, before moving on to complete the whole track bed (where it remains) from Sligo to Fermanagh.

A start has been made on the greenway project in other places however. The section from Dromahair to Edergole [No 20] Level crossing has been surfaced and is in use. It is only a short section - about ¾ of a mile.

Those who remember the line will realise that this is the avenue of trees entered just on the approach to Dromahair from Sligo.


The remainder of this article appears in IRRS Journal number 194, published October 2017

Copyright © 2017 by Irish Railway Record Society Ltd.
Revised: May 17, 2018 .