MYSTIC VALLEY RAILWAY SOCIETY

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LINES FROM IRELAND

by James Scannell

 

During November Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) indicated that it was going to seek permission from the Irish government to formally abandon ten railroad lines to save an annual US$3.6M in costs on maintaining bridges, fence and level (grade)
crossings on these routes. Iarnród Éireann has asked the Minister for Transport to issue orders under the Transport Act, 1950, to abandon these closed lines, most of which still have tracks in place, heavily overgrown in places, some of which were suggested for possible re-opening in the future. Iarnród Éireann maintains that the abandonment of these ten lines is necessary as the semi-state company receives no government funding towards their on-going maintenance.

In a separate development, sections of other lines suggested for possible closure in a report drawn up by the National Transport Authority and Iarnród Éireann include the section between Ennis, County Clare, and Athenry, County Galway on the Western Rail Corridor, which was only re-opened in 2010 at a cost of US$120M but has suffered from lengthy closure periods since then due to winter flooding north of Ennis; Limerick City to Ballybrophy, County Laois, via Nenagh, County Tipperary; Limerick Junction to Waterford City; and from Gorey, County Wexford to Rosslare Europort.

On November 21st, a new commuter service from Newbridge, County Kildare, and Part West, County Dublin, to Dublin Connolly
and Grand Canal Dock using the Phoenix Park Tunnel was inaugurated by Iarnród Éireann. The Phoenix Park Tunnel connects Dublin Hueston with Dublin Connolly and prior to the inauguration of this service was used mainly to transfer rolling stock between these Dublin termini. The upgrading of the line between Glasnevin Junction and Islandbridge Junction was funded by the National Transport Authority at cost of about US$16M. The new service consists of seven peak morning services to Grand Canal Dock in the morning and eight peak evening services back in the evening with a limited number of round trips services also in the peak hours.

On December 8th Dublin DART evening rush hour services were delayed by up to 30 minutes at Lansdowne Road station, Dublin, by two swans which got onto the line and had to be cleared away and brought to a place of safety by station staff before services could resume.

In mid-December Iarnród Éireann said that it is committed to continuous safety improvements after being criticized by the Commission for Railway Regulation (CRR) in its 2015 HYPERLINK “http://www.crr.ie/publications/annualreport-2015/” annual report. The CRR said it was evident that Iarnród Éireann was “taking a noticeably different approach towards safety regulation” and criticized “the stance adopted at the most senior level in Iarnród Éireann management when responding to matters of safety management compliance identified by the Commission”. The report added that it is “of concern that the type of sentiment expressed in correspondence with the regulator may be a reflection of a leadership attitude to safety that would be less than the Commission expects”. However, it noted that “despite the issues encountered”, the CRR continued to encourage key professional staff … in taking steps to implement improvements for the benefit of railway safety”. The report added: “The vast majority of such key staff have been receptive to the Commission’s recommendations.”
Responding to the report, Iarnród Éireann said its board and management “are committed to fulfilling” the programme of actions agreed to with the CRR, including revised reporting and governance arrangements between the two bodies. The
company said it is also committed to “working with the CRR to ensure the highest standards of safety are achieved within Iarnród Éireann for customers, employees and third parties”.

Moving to Northern Ireland: at the end of October Translinks NI [Northern Ireland] Railways announced that it had plans to restore the former Waterside station at Londonderry/ Derry, closed since 1980, and return it to railroad use as well as it forming a new transport hub in the city. While the new platforms will be built outside the existing locomotive shed (roundhouse), new passenger facilities and a ticket office will be contained within the existing structure.


On Wednesday November 2nd, the last semaphore signals on the Northern Ireland Railways network were taken out of service following the closure of the Castlerock signal cabin. The passing loop at Castlerock had been decommissioned several days earlier. Following the removal of the semaphore signals, the line between Coleraine and Londonderry/Derry was totally
closed from November 3rd to November 20th. This enabled the new signaling system operated from Coleraine to be commissioned, the old passing loop at Castlerock to be removed, and the new replacement passing loop at Bellarena to be connected to the main line. From November 21st, all trains from Coleraine to Londonderry/Derry use the new platform at Bellarena while all trains in the opposite direction use the new platform on the new passing loop.

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Revised: Mar 27, 2017