Supplement to e-BLN 1259 BLN Pictorial 18 June 2016
For this issue of BLN Pictorial we turn to Ireland, once a single country with a complex railway system having many minor lines, whose chances of
profitability might make even Colonel Stephens pause for thought. Nevertheless after all the political upheavals from 1916 onwards, the establishment of
an independent republic in the south leaving only the 'six counties' of the North in the United Kingdom, and an enormous reduction in mileage both north
and south of the border, two slimmed down and modernised systems have found their way into the 21st century. The two publicly owned systems are
Translink (formerly Northern Ireland Railways) in the North and Iarnród Éireann/Irish Rail (IÉ/IR) in the Republic of Ireland. The Republic has a government
owned public transport authority, Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), of which Iarnród Éireann is a subsidiary along with Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus. There are
active enthusiast and preservation bodies on both sides of the border and this issue takes a look at two railtours, one originating in Dublin and the other in
Belfast. The first was run by the Irish Railway Record Society (IRRS) on 18 July 2015, starting from Dublin and visiting locations on the west coast of Ireland
using class 071 locomotives. Our thanks are due to our member Nick Jones for providing all the photographs of this tour. The tour from Belfast, on 13 May
2006, was run by the Modern Railway Society of Ireland (MRSI) and took the route of the cross-border 'Enterprise' service to Dublin, continuing on to
Wexford and Rosslare Europort. It provided your Sub-Editor with an opportunity to finish off his last remaining bits of Northern Ireland passenger track and
link up to his one and only rail journey in the Republic, made as long ago as 1965! The photographs of the MRSI tour are all the fault of your Sub-Ed.
As in other recent issues of BLN Pictorial, you can get to each picture by clicking on the page number to the left of the captions, and return to the captions
by clicking near the bottom left of the picture. On the last page are two maps showing the Irish rail system as it was in 1906, and approximately a century
later; you can get to the maps from any picture by clicking in the bottom right hand corner, and back to the picture by clicking on the camera symbol on the
1906 map. A current map can be found on page 35 of the IÉ Network Statement here (3.1MB download) and there is more information on Ireland's
railways from the enthusiast perspective on the EGTRE web site here. Many more photos of Irish locations can be found on the excellent Ribble Valley Rail
web site here.
4. A cloudless early morning greets the tour participants as 1976-built GM '071' class Co-Co diesel-electric 087 waits with the IRRS tour train at Dublin
Connolly (originally just Dublin then, from 1 May 1854 until 9 April 1966, Dublin Amiens Street) at 07:40 on 15 July 2015. Something of a 'false dawn'
as it turned out, though only for the weather. The train shed in the background houses the terminal platforms, originally the terminus of the Dublin
and Drogheda Railway Company, OP 29 November 1844. There is a photograph of the train shed's interior on page 14.
5. The first opportunity for photographs arose when the tour called at Tullamore on the outward journey, by which time the weather had already
started to change. The tour train is seen waiting on the left as a Dublin-bound train enters the station. Opened on 2 October 1854, for many years
Tullamore led a quiet life on a branch line from Portarlington, on the Great Southern & Western Railway's Dublin-Cork line, to Athlone. With the
diversion of most Galway, Ballina and Westport trains to Dublin Heuston from 2 April 1973, Tullamore gained an extra platform 2, and a good deal of
extra traffic at the expense of the Athlone-Mullingar line, whose much-reduced service only survived until withdrawn from 11 May 1987.
6. Although the goods shed at Ballina is not used, there is a considerable amount of timber and intermodal freight handled in the yard on the other
(west) side of the line, as evidenced by the containers on the left of the picture. The picture is taken looking north towards the end of the line, with
the rear of the tour train next to the goods shed.
7. The tour train at Ballina, now a terminus, with the freight terminal off to the right of the picture. CIÉ is believed to have said that the Ballina line is the
only profitable freight line in the country, though by quite what yardstick isn't entirely clear.
8. The view north from the 'country' end of the station at Ballina. The line continued to Killala as a light railway built under the auspices of the Light
Railways (Ireland) Act of 1889, and opened in 1893. It closed to passengers from 1 October 1931 and goods from 1 July 1934. The stub of the line,
known as Crossmolina Siding and seen here with stabled wagons, extends for some 400 metres beyond the station, after which it vanishes without
trace beneath houses and roads.
9. Returning from Ballina behind No078 of the same class, the tour reversed at Claremorris in heavy rain. Claremorris was once a 5-way junction with
lines to Manulla (the junction for Westport and Ballina), Athlone on the Midland Great Western (MGW) line to Dublin, Collooney on the MGW Sligo-
Mullingar-Dublin route, Athenry on the MGW line to Galway, and a MGW branch to Ballinrobe. Only the Manulla and Athlone routes remain in use,
but the Athenry line, CA from May 1999, retains its track but now without any exit at Athenry. The picture is taken looking north west towards
Manulla; the rusty track on the other side of the island platform from the tour train is the Athenry line, and the one to the left of the disused island
platform is the stub of the Ballinrobe branch (O 1 Nov 1892, CA 1 Jan 1960), which extends only a very short distance beyond the former platform
end. The Collooney line diverged northwards from the Manulla line a short distance west of Claremorris.
10. The last reversal for the tour was at Westport, where the manoeuvre was made more interesting by the decision of 078 that it only wanted to move
towards Dublin. 084, the relief loco, had to spend time shunting the defective 078 out of the way so that the platform could remain in use, resulting in
a 30 minute late departure. The photo, looking east, shows 084 moving some timber wagons in the process of this shunt. Westport, now a terminus,
was originally the starting point of an MGW branch westwards to Achill, O 13 May 1895, CA 1 October 1937, and a shorter line to Westport Quay, O 1
Oct 1874. Passenger services to Westport Quay were reduced to summer only by the turn of century and ceased with the Great War. Freight
continued until well after the war. The eventual closure date is uncertain but the track was lifted in 1978 except for a short stretch of some 300
metres beyond Westport station which is retained for loading timber.
11. The interior of Westport signal cabin, disused for signalling purposes since16 April 2007, prior to the resignalling of the Mayo lines (Ballina and
Westport) from 4 May 2007.
12. Turning now to the 2006 MRSI tour, we see NIR's GM Co-Co 8113, formerly 113, with the tour train at Drogheda. As with the July 2015 tour, the
weather started well, but although it stayed dry, it deteriorated from a photographic point of view.
13. 8113 at Dublin Connolly, where it was removed in here favour of IE's class 071, No080, which worked the tour as far as Waterford Plunkett. The train
shed in the background is the one seen in the photograph od the IRRS tour on page 4. In the photograph, 8113 is at one of the platforms on the 1891
link built by the City of Dublin Junction Railway to connect to Pearse station (then Westland Row).
14. The airy interior of Connolly's train shed, seen on the day of the MRSI tour, 13 May 2006. Today the nearest track is electrified, as can be seen in the
photograph of the 2015 IRRS tour on page 4.
15. The tour on the rather precarious roadside stretch along Wexford Quay, just south of Wexford station. This 1989 video, on YouTube, shows the need
for caution in Wexford! This line, originally opened 1882 by the Waterford & Wexford Railway, provided the first rail access to Rosslare.
16. 080 after arrival at Rosslare Europort. From 14 Sep 1989, this station replaced the previous Harbour station which had been on the pier itself, adjacent
to the Fishguard ferry berth. The 1989 station saw its last train on 14 April 2008, to be replaced a fortnight later (from 27 April 2008) by the present
station on the former turntable siding site - even further away from the ships and with 'bus shelter' facilities.
17. The tour at Wellingtonbridge on the now closed (from 20 September 2010) line from Rosslare to Waterford.
18. After the mid-afternoon break at Waterford Plunkett, the tour continued over the now threatened line to Limerick Junction. Here 074, which replaced
080 for the journey back to Limerick Junction and Dublin, is seen with the tour train at Waterford.
19. On the way to Limerick Junction the tour paused for a short break at Carrick-on-Suir. This picture shows the 'small, but perfectly formed' signal cabin,
which is still in use.
20. The reason for the short break was to enable participants to view the Irish Traction Group's collection of locomotives. The picture shows the former
goods shed, housing one end of 201 class Bo-Bo 226, built by Metropolitan-Vickers in the mid 1950s and in the process of restoration.
The links below will take you to online maps and views of the relevant locations which will open in your browser. 'GM' will take you to Google Maps, 'OSM'
to OpenStreetMap, or 'SV' to Google Street View (where available). Mobile device users, please note that a large volume of data may be downloaded!
4 Dublin Connolly GM OSM 10 Westport GM OSM SV 16 Rosslare Europort GM OSM
5 Tullamore GM OSM SV 11 Westport Cabin GM OSM SV 17 Waterford Plunkett GM OSM SV
6 Ballina goods shed GM OSM SV 12 Drogheda GM OSM SV 18 Wellingtonbridge GM OSM SV
7 Ballina buffers GM OSM SV 13 Dublin Connolly GM OSM 19 Carrick-on-Suir SC GM OSM
8 Ballina Crossmolina GM OSM SV 14 Dublin Connolly GM OSM 20 Carrick-on-Suir GS GM OSM SV
9 Claremorris GM OSM SV 15 Wexford Quay GM OSM SV