Irish Railway Record Society
Limerick Station dates back to 1838 when the present fine station building was
completed and the railway extended from an earlier station 740 yards to the
east. While the 1838 layout was adequate for the traffic of the day, it had many
alterations and additions in the following 70 years. In the early 1900s, a new
layout was planned and developed. A track layout and signalling drawing in
colour was prepared by the Signal Engineer, Inchicore, signed A.
Gordon and dated 11 August 1910. It is approximately 10 feet long and a copy
is held at the National Archives, Kew, Middlesex. This was the copy sent to the
Railways Inspecting Officer at the time for approval of the work and is perhaps
the finest Irish signalling drawing at Kew. The Inspecting Officer was Lt. Col.
Sir Horatio Arthur Yorke – who was, in keeping with tradition, a member of the
Corps of Royal Engineer
last total layout change and re-signalling project was that of 1910 in
conjunction with Foynes/North Kerry trains ceasing to use the “Check
Platform” and running instead directly into the station. Check platforms were
where trains stopped specifically for ticket checkers to walk along the outside
of the train and check the tickets of passengers on board. The layout change
also allowed trains to and from Limerick Junction to operate to/from Platforms
signal cabins were closed (the former Check and Station cabins, Ennis Junction,
Engine Shed, and a small Cork & Limerick Direct Railway box). Foynes
Junction Cabin (19 levers with 6 spare) was retained, and two new cabins of
different design were built, known as Limerick Platform Cabin (later titled
Limerick Station Cabin) and Limerick Check Cabin. The former was of brick
construction to window level, while the Check cabin was of all wood
construction. Both signal cabins were supplied by the Railway Signal Co.,
Liverpool. The Platform Cabin had 78 levers and 4 spares.
25 October 1931, Killonan Junction cabin closed and the junction track layout
was removed, the Ballybrophy and Waterford lines between Killonan and Limerick
Check becoming two single lines. After the closure of Foynes Junction cabin on
Tuesday, 2 February 1932 (Weekly Circular No. 2278 for week ending Saturday, 6
February 1932), a Westinghouse hand generator was installed to operate the
remote electrically-powered points, as the location was too far from the signal
cabin to be worked by conventional rodding.
the greatest test of the capacity of the 1910 track layout and signalling was in
1949 when the Munster Senior Hurling Final was played and re-played at the GAA
Gaelic Grounds on the Ennis Road in Limerick. The Ground had recently been
refurbished for £10,000 and the capacity had been increased from 15,000 to
40,000 persons. For the first game, between Tipperary and Cork, on Sunday 29
May, eighteen specials operated, with five direct from Cork, two via Limerick
Junction, and three via Croom. No service was offered on the Cork, Bandon &
South Coast system, but connections were operated from Youghal to Cork and
Fermoy to Mallow. In total 8,997 supporters travelled by train to the game. The
result was a draw, 3-10 to 3-10, and the replay was fixed for Sunday 27 June
1949, when only fourteen specials operated, as there was a clash with the Golden
Jubilee Rally of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association in Croke Park, Dublin,
attended by 80,000. However, the fourteen specials carried 7,501 passengers,
with the second Cork special having 1,040 on board. Limerick in 1949 had
considerable siding capacity and most of this would have been made available for
the empty passenger trains to be stored. However, during the games, trains would
have been shunted to areas with water hoses, so that the lavatory water tanks
could be filled. In an editorial comment the Limerick
Leader was very complimentary of CIÉ’s handling of the events.
its closure on 3 June 2017 for the current resignalling, Limerick Check Cabin
was the largest of the nine surviving mechanical signal boxes on the Irish Rail
system – the others are Cork, Navan, Waterford West, Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel,
Tipperary, Birdhill and Roscrea. The Check cabin originally had 47 levers, with
another added soon after opening, but later removed. With 6 levers spare in
recent years, there were 41 operational levers.
Station Cabin had its lever frame replaced by an EnEx panel in 1972.
The EnEx panel, unique on Irish Rail, allowed the signalman to set up a route by
operating a switch at the start and another at the end of a route and the system
would make the desired route.
distinctive feature of the control between the Station and Check cabins was
“slotted working” – a system whereby both signalmen had to pull a signal
off before the signal would clear to a proceed aspect. The signal cabins were
too close to have Absolute Block Working between them using Double Line
instruments. This was perpetuated when the EnEx panel was installed and remained
until the closure of the cabins.
Nos. 3 and 4 and associated tracks were closed from 23:10 on Monday 29 May, a
week before the re-signalling closure, to facilitate the platform works and the
moving-out of the turnout for the two platform roads, to thereby allow the
platforms to be extended. The opportunity was taken to straighten platform No.
3, which had a loop indented into it to provide a locomotive release for North
Kerry line trains before the introduction of the AEC 2600-class railcars in the
latter part of the 1950s. New friction buffers were installed on Platforms Nos.
3 and 4 only. The friction buffers are 20 metres in front of the former static
buffers. Both platforms were extended by 23 metres from the top of the original
ramp to the top of the new ramp. The functional length of the platforms was
consequently increased by approximately 3 metres. It is proposed to demolish the
former Station Signal cabin, an uninteresting and much-altered structure, to
facilitate the extension of Platforms Nos. 1 and 2, and the provision of buffer
stop arrangements to comply with modern safety requirements, similar to those on
Platform Nos. 3 & 4. The old platforms will be removed completely and the
new platforms will be of precast concrete units.
empty passenger trains, one formed by 2x 3-car ICRs and the other a 5-car ICR,
were scheduled to leave Limerick at 22:00 and 22:20 on Sunday 4 June 2017 for
Limerick Junction, thereby clearing the station of rolling stock. At 23:00,
Limerick Station cabin closed permanently. At 22:45 Signalman Conor McNamara at
Limerick Check cabin granted the engineers an absolute possession of Limerick
Yard, to Ennis on the Galway line, and to Dromkeen, including the loop, on the
Waterford line, thereby ending mechanical signalling in Limerick. At 23:30,
Limerick Check Cabin closed permanently. Substitute bus services were provided
for the duration of the possession, between Limerick station and Ennis and
Limerick Junction respectively. Ennis buses did not serve Sixmilebridge, which
had a separate shuttle bus service to and from Limerick.
arrangements were in place for the three weeks of the closure to stable trains
overnight at the platforms at Limerick Junction, including at Platform 1 on the
loop track. Portable tail lights had to be fitted to each train and security
staff was present.
points in Limerick are now operated by Clamp Lock point machines. Up to
September 2016, six points had been worked by Westinghouse 63 machines, five by
mechanical rodding from the Check cabin, and the remainder by electro-pneumatic
mechanisms with electric detection. From September 2016, there was a programme
to convert all the points to Clamp Lock operation in anticipation of the
from three signals on the Galway line which remain of the filament lamp type,
all signals are new LED type. It is possible to signal laden passenger trains
into any of the four platforms, when they are occupied, using signal numbers
LK468 & LK472(S), these being the only directional position-light shunt
signals in Limerick which can display a proceed aspect for this purpose. Both
signals are fitted with a yellow ‘CALL ON’ plate, differentiating them from
all other conventional directional position-light shunt signals. The use of
conventional track circuits has been dispensed with on all lines controlled from
Limerick ECP and these are now equipped with axle counters throughout.
21:06 on Sunday 25 June the new Limerick Electronic Control Point (ECP) was
commissioned and all lines which were previously controlled from either Limerick
Check or Limerick Station Signal Cabins came under the control of the new ECP.
This ECP is of the PC-ECP type and is located in the former Road Freight
Building at Roxboro Road part of the Limerick railway complex. The signalling
prefix for the new system is LK.
of 25 June, CAWS did not cover the Limerick station area and the Ennis line,
terminating inbound on the Limerick side of signal LK482, and commencing
outbound at LK483. From 23 July, CAWS was extended to the station area and the
Ennis line, ending after XE006DD outward and commencing inbound at LK424.
conclusion I wish to thank Anthony Gray, Kevin Walker, Tashev Veselin and Derek
Robinson for their assistance.
Signal Box Register, Volume 9:
Ireland & Isle Of Man, published by the Signalling Record Society in
2015, states that the EnEx panel was later replaced by a one control switch
system, OCS, for reasons of reliability. This is not correct. The original
push buttons on the EnEx panel became unreliable and were replaced by
three-position switches, similar to those used on OCS panels, but the
Limerick installation continued to function as an EnEx panel to the end. Ed.
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