Rail transport in Ireland


Rail transport in Ireland

Rail services in Ireland are provided by Iarnród Éireann in the Republic of Ireland and by Northern Ireland Railways in Northern Ireland.

The gauge on main lines is RailGauge|1600 Irish gauge, as opposed to the "standard gauge" of RailGauge|1435 of most of Europe.

Most routes in the Republic radiate from Dublin. Northern Ireland has suburban routes from Belfast and two main lines, to Derry and the cross-border route to Dublin.

A major infrastructure plan for the Republic of Ireland, "Transport 21", was announced by the Minister of Transport on 1 November 2005, to include heavy rail, light rail and metro projects in the period to 2015.

To match international best practice, needed improvements to Iarnród Éireann intercity train services include recorded station and in-train announcements triggered by the position of trains.

The accompanying map of present railway network in Ireland shows lines that are fully operational, lines carrying only freight traffic, and lines which have been "mothballed" (i.e. closed to traffic but potentially easily re-openable). Some airports are indicated but none is rail-connected although Farranfore and Belfast City Airport are within walking distance of a railway station. Both the City of Derry Airport and Belfast International (Aldergrove) are near railway lines but financial constraints prevent providing stations. Ports are marked though few remain rail-connected.

History

The first railway in Ireland opened in 1834. At the peak in 1920, Ireland had 5,600km (3,400mi) of railway. Now less than half that remains. A large area around the border area between the two countries has no rail service. The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland based in Whitehead, County Antrim runs preserved steam trains on the main line, with the Irish Traction Group preserving diesel locomotives and operating on the main line. The Downpatrick & County Down Railway is the only self-contained full-size heritage railway in Ireland, though several short narrow gauge lines also exist. The Irish Turf Board (Bord na Móna) operates over 1,600km (1,000mi) of 914mm (3ft) gauge lines at locations where peat is commercially cut and processed.

Traction

Locomotives

:"Main article:" Diesel Locomotives of IrelandDiesel traction is the sole form of motive power in both the IE and NIR networks, apart from the electrified Howth-Bray (DART) suburban route in Dublin. Apart from prototypes and a small number of shunting locomotives, the first major dieselisation programme on CIE commenced in the early 1950s with orders for 94 locomotives of two sizes (A and C classes) from Metropolitan-Vickers which were delivered from 1955, with a further 12 (B class) locomotives from Sulzer in the late 1950s.

Following poor reliability experience with the first generation diesel locomotives, in the 1960s a second dieselisation programme was undertaken with the introduction of 64 locomotives in three classes (121, 141 and 181) built by General Motors, of the United States. This programme, together with line closures, enabled CIE to eliminate steam traction in 1963. In parallel, NIR acquired three locomotives from Hunslet, of England for Dublin-Belfast services. The Metropolitan-Vickers locomotives were re-engined by CIE in the early 1970s with General Motors engines.

The third generation of diesel traction in Ireland was the acquisition of 18 locomotives from General Motors of 2475 h.p. output, designated the 071 class, in 1976. This marked a significant improvement in the traction power available to CIE and enabled the acceleration of express passenger services. NIR subsequently purchased three similar locomotives for Dublin-Belfast services, which was the first alignment of traction policies by CIE and NIR.

A fourth generation of diesels took the form of 34 locomotives, again from General Motors, which arrived in the early 1990s. This was a joint order by IÉ and NIR, with 32 locos for the former and two for the latter. They were supplied by General Motors Electro-Motive Division. IÉ designated their locomotives the GM 201 class, the entire 34 locos being numbered 201 to 234 (the NIR locos were later prefixed with an 8). These locomotives are the most powerful diesels to run in Ireland, and are of 3200 horsepower (2.5 MW) which enabled further acceleration of express services. The NIR locos, although shipped in NIR livery, were repainted in 'Enterprise' livery as were at least two IÉ locos.

In December 2004, a new livery for the InterCity sector was tested on 228, consisting of dark green, lime green and metallic silver, the livery of the new CAF carriages. This livery is now being applied to other members of the class. A revised version of the existing livery has also been tested on another 201 locomotive and many members of the class are now appearing in this livery. Other locomotives in the class are due to be refurbished.

The second generation locomotives of CIE comprise 12 '181' class from 1966, 1100 hp (750 kW), 38 '141' class from 1962, 950 hp (700 kW) and 2 remaining (of an original 14) '121' class locos of 1960, 950 hp (700 kW) (124 and 134). The 071 class are now used on freight services. NIR's three similar locomotives are numbered 111, 112 and 113. There is seldom more than one of these serviceable at a time

Multiple units

:"Main article:" Multiple Units of Ireland

NIR and IÉ both run suburban services using diesel multiple units (DMUs) – these are termed railcars in Ireland (see rail terminology). IÉ DMUs also operate a few of its Intercity services (including services between Rosslare Europort and Limerick Junction/Dublin Connolly and Dublin/Sligo, and one service per week from Connolly to Belfast and back. NIR is replacing some ageing DMUs with new regional railcars built by CAF, which arrived in 2005. These have been designated 3000 class. A series of difficulties has been encountered in testing, delaying the delivery and putting into service of some units. IÉ introduced 17 new suburban railcars in 1993 as the 2600 class (built by Tokyu Car, Japan) for the Kildare 'Arrow' commuter service. Further additions to the fleet were made in 1999 (27 2700 class, Alstom built), 2000 (20 2800 class, Tokyu Car built) and 2003 (80 29000 class, CAF built). A further 36 CAF railcars arrived in 2005, and Korean intercity railcars have begun to arrive since.

Rolling Stock

:"Main article:" Coaching Stock of Ireland
Irish Rail's flagship Intercity Fleet are the Mark IV Trains (built by CAF of Spain in 2005/6). They are formed into 8-car trains, pushed or pulled by a GM 201 class locomotive. Each set contains 5 standard Class carriages, 1 'Citygold'(first class) carraige and a Restaurant Carriage. They are noted for their Blue tinted windows which help to create a cool journey for the passenger, electronic route maps showing the progress a train has made on its journey and electronic displays above each window show if the seats have been reserved with the person's name. Citygold customers on the new fleet have the added features of adjustable seating, greater room and comfort, in-seat audio entertainment, and powerpoints for working on laptops, or recharging PDAs, MP3 players or mobile phones. They are used exclusively on the Dublin to Cork route; operating an hourly service each way. Sets are stored in Cork overnight in a new depot to operate the morning services.

The second Intercity fleet of Irish Rail are the '22000' class Intercity Railcars. Currently entering service across the network the new railcars are replacing all locomotive hauled Carraiges (Except Mark 4 and the Enterprise). All Mark 2 carraiges were withdrawn in early 2008 while the Mark 3 Carriages have been advertised for sale. There are 183 Carriages in Total being formed into the following sets:
*10 6 Car Sets - Each set will include a 1st Class Carriage and a Dining Carriage. They will be used on Key Intercity services between Dublin and Limerick,Galway and Waterford.
*31 3 Car Sets - These will mostly Operate in pairs. They will serve lesser used Intercity services and all Dublin to Sligo, Rosslare and Tralee services.
*10 6 Car Commuter Sets - These are high density layout Carraiges for busy long distance Commuter routes such as Dublin to Portlaoise/Thurles.

The new Railcars are operating on most of the services on the following routes now: Dublin to Sligo , Dublin to Westport and Dublin to Limerick. Their Introduction to the Dublin to Galway route has begun.Features of the Intercity railcar fleet include:

*Automatic PA and information display systems
*Electronic seat reservation displays for web bookings,
*Fully air-conditioned,
*Internal CCTV system for improved security,
*Sleek carriage design,
*And Advanced safety features throughout.

The Mark IIIs are soon to be withdrawn. Currently they operate all Intercity services On Intercity routes from Dublin Heuston not served by 2200 Class Railcars. Irish Rail have advertised them for sale, although they may keep some as Back up sets. These carriages were built in 1980, 1986 and 1989] . Unlike the British versions they have power-operated external doors. They include a dining car, first class carriage (on all but two of the sets, the carriage is half first class and half standard class), generator van and typically six ordinary carriages. Three of these carriages are CityGold business class accommodation but the service is now discontinued as these no longer operate to Cork.

Now equipped with the most modern Intercity Fleet in Europe (The new 22000 and Mark IV sets), Irish Rail have started embarking on a major expansion in service frequencies -- by 2009 IÉ anticipates frequencies on the network will be:
*Dublin - Cork: hourly all day.
*Dublin - Limerick: hourly, with a mixture of direct services, and shuttles connecting with Dublin - Cork services at Limerick Junction.
*Dublin - Galway: hourly at peak times, two-hourly the rest of the day.
*Dublin - Waterford: two-hourly all day.
*Dublin - Sligo: two-hourly all day.
*Dublin - Westport: existing through trains with extra shuttles connecting with Galway services at Athlone.
*Dublin - Tralee: existing through trains with extra shuttles every two hours connecting with Cork services at Mallow.
*Dublin - Rosslare: existing services with extra commuter services to Arklow/Gorey and possibly Wexford.
*Dublin - Kildare (commuter service): A Very Frequent service will be possible with the Kildare route project.

The Dublin to Belfast 'Enterprise' service is operated with rolling stock from De Dietrich commissioned in 1997. These sets comprise a dining car, first class carriage(s) and driving van trailer (DVT) for push-pull operation. Notable is the omission of a generator van (the DVT does not have its own generator). This requires the GM locos to supply head-end power (HEP) for heating and lighting.

NIR also has a number of refurbished Mark II carriages acquired from the Gatwick Express service and converted to run on the Irish 1600 mm (5ft 3in) gauge. These are generally referred to as 'the Gatwicks'.

Apart from the Dublin-Belfast "Enterprise" trains, all remaining loco hauled Irish passenger trains receive their power from a generator coach, often termed "Jenny Vans", rather than the locomotive. Until the end of December 2006, some of these were still fitted with steam generating boilers for steam heating, but from January 2007 all are diesel powered. The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland has preserved one steam van.

Routes and overview

Some services below usually, but not necessarily always, involve a change of trains. Changing points are shown in bold type. Usually services at different times of day will serve a different subset of the stations shown below. The "stations served" lists all possible stops for any train on a given route. As an example, some services to Limerick do not involve a change at Limerick Junction, and some services to Cork may stop at Limerick Junction, Charleville and Mallow only. With the re-opening of the Western Corridor line it can be seen that Ireland despite its apparent paucity of rail lines in fact has the possibility of having the best railway network in Europe(in terms of journey possibilities between important centres) in relation to its population. Irish towns and cities are generally small, but the new network will enable communication between most of them - either directly or by a simple change.

Republic of Ireland main routes

Dublin to Cork

"See Main Article: Dublin-Cork railway line":Stations served - Dublin Heuston, Kildare, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Ballybrophy, Templemore, Thurles, Limerick Junction, Charleville, Mallow, Cork Kent

This was known as the 'Premier Line' of the Great Southern and Western Railway (GS&WR), being one of the longest routes in the country (272 km or 170 mi), built to a high standard and connecting to Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Kerry as well as to Cork. These other destinations all have their own services, although connections are offered to/from the Cork service at Limerick Junction (for Limerick) and Mallow (for Kerry).

Most services to Cork stop at four or five stations at most, usually at least Limerick Junction, Charleville and Mallow. Other stops are not as frequently served, as services from other destinations mentioned above also serve those stops. Journey time varies, but mostly trains take 3 hours to complete the journey (express trains with few or no stops take just over 2½ hours).

Dublin to Limerick

:Stations served - Dublin Heuston, Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevan, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Ballybrophy, Templemore, Thurles, Limerick Junction, Limerick Colbert

This service follows the Cork route as far as Limerick Junction. Limerick services leave the main line via a direct curve onto the Limerick-Waterford railway. However, many Dublin-Limerick services involve a change at 'the Junction' onto a local train for the remaining 20 minutes of the journey. The Limerick to Limerick Junction section was built as part of the Waterford & Limerick Railway (W&LR).

Dublin to Galway

:Stations served - Dublin Heuston, Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevin, Portarlington, Tullamore, Clara, Athlone, Ballinasloe, Woodlawn, Attymon, Athenry, Galway Ceannt

The route to Galway now runs partly along the Cork main line. Originally the Midland Great Western Railway (MGWR) to Galway was built starting on Dublin's northside, from Broadstone Station, continuing on through Mullingar to Athlone. The section to Mullingar is now part of the Dublin-Sligo route.

The present route, built by the GS&WR in competition with the MGWR, leaves the Cork main line just after Portarlington. The River Shannon is crossed at Athlone. Athenry, the last station before Galway, used to boast connections north and south along the west coast (to Sligo and Ennis/Limerick respectively), but these connecting services have been defunct since the 1970s. [Dáil Éireann debate on the closure of the Limerick - Claremorris route, [http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0289/D.0289.197603300027.html] ]

Dublin to Tralee

:Stations served - Dublin Heuston, Portlaoise, Thurles, Limerick Junction, Charleville, Mallow, Banteer, Millstreet, Rathmore, Killarney, Farranfore, Tralee CasementThis relatively indirect route runs along what is in essence a branch line connected to the Cork–Dublin mainline at Mallow. Trains run to/from the south of Tralee, services also once ran north to Limerick via North Kerry (via Listowel, Abbeyfeale, Newcastlewest, and Patrickswell). The route became part of the extensive GS&WR network. As late as 2004 the route boasted some of the oldest rolling stock and locomotives in Ireland. In December 2005, railcars replaced the majority of locomotive hauled trains. From the January 2007 Timetable there are now a record nine trains in each direction a day between Mallow and Tralee, up from eight trains each way in the previous timetable, including an early morning commuter service between Killarney and Tralee.

Dublin to Waterford

:Stations served - Dublin Heuston, Newbridge, Kildare, Athy, Carlow, Muine Bheag (Bagenalstown), Kilkenny, Thomastown, Waterford Plunkett.Since Kilkenny is a stub station, reversal is necessary.Not all Trains stop at Thomastown and Newbridge

Dublin to Wexford/Rosslare Europort

"See Main Article: Dublin-Rosslare railway line":Stations served - Dublin Connolly, Dublin Pearse, Dún Laoghaire, Bray, Greystones, Wicklow, Rathdrum, Arklow, Gorey, Enniscorthy, Wexford O'Hanrahan, Rosslare Strand, Rosslare Europort.

Dublin to Sligo

:Stations served - Dublin Connolly, Maynooth, Kilcock, Enfield, Mullingar, Edgeworthstown railway station, Longford, Dromod, Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle, Ballymote, Collooney, Sligo McDiarmada.

Dublin to Westport/Ballina

:Stations served - Dublin Heuston, Newbridge, Kildare, Tullamore, Clara, Athlone, Roscommon, Castlerea, Ballyhaunis, Claremorris, Manulla Junction, (Foxford, Ballna) or (Castlebar, Westport).The line is currently served primarily by a 201 Class Locomotive along with a rake of Mark 3 carriages on Dublin - Westport, on the Manulla Junction - Ballina section a (Arrow) 2600 railcar operates from Manulla to Ballina, this has changed recently from a two Craven coachs a BR Van and been hauled by a General Motors Class 071.Notable exceptions to the above occur in particular with the 14:25 service from Westport to Dublin on Sunday with connecting service from Ballina.

Republic of Ireland Regional Routes

Limerick to Nenagh/Ballybrophy/Dublin

This line is subject to many speed restrictions due to the need to replace several old sections of track. Stations served from Limerick Colbert are Castleconnell, Birdhill, Nenagh, Cloughjordan and Roscrea, terminating at Ballybrophy. The line branches from the Waterford line just outside Limerick at Killonan Junction. All trains on this line connect with Dublin trains at Ballybrophy. Current services on the line consist of two return passenger trains a day from Limerick and three shale freight trains from Kilmastulla siding near Birdhill to the Castlemungret cement factory outside Limerick. Following a campaign by The Nenagh Rail Partnership founded by local politicians and community representatives and assisted by the internet news group Irish Railway News, a market research survey was funded by local Government. The market research was carried out in the summer of 2005 and showed there existed a market for improved services on the line. As a result of this study IÉ has committed to allocating additional rolling stock to the line as part of its ongoing fleet replacement programme. In October 2007, following a meeting between Iarnród Éireann management and The Nenagh Rail Partnership, it was confirmed that the new commuter service will be introduced between Nenagh and Limerick on 1 September 2008. This was launched as planned on 1st September 2008.

Limerick to Ennis

The Limerick to Ennis route is the only open section of a railway line extending from Limerick to Sligo, built by a number of independents companies and operated by the WL&WR. The line was shut by CIÉ to passenger traffic on 5th April 1976, but reopened in 1988 (Tuesdays and Thursdays only). This was expanded to a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday service in 1992. In 1993 this was expanded to include Friday and Sunday evening services, and a full six-weekday service commenced in 1994. In 2003 the service was expanded from two/three services daily (one on Sundays), to around eight services a day, including six on Sundays. Relatively new commuter DMUs now provide a slow (40 minutes) but frequent service. The line is a single block section with no passing loops (a single train runs back and forth all day) though it is planned as part of the Limerick resignalling to provide a passing loop in the Sixmilebridge area.

Currently only Limerick and Ennis are served. Former stations include Longpavement, Meelick, Cratloe, Sixmilebridge, Ballycar & Newmarket, Ardsollus & Quin and Clarecastle.

It was announced [Transport 21 Press Release on Western Rail Corridor, [http://www.transport21.ie/MEDIA/Press_Releases/Cullen_gives_Iarnrod_Eireann_go_ahead_to_begin_work_on_Western_Rail_Corridor.html] ] that the Ennis to Athenry line will be reopened in 2009. This will involve new stations in the towns of Gort, Ardrahan, Craughwell, Sixmilebridge and Oranmore. It was reported in May 2008 by the Limerick Leader [http://www.limerickleader.ie/shannon/Station-house-purchase-boost-for.4113169.jp] that the station at Sixmilebridge had been purchased by Clare County Council and will reopen to passengers in 2009. See also Western Railway Corridor.

Limerick to Waterford/Rosslare

:Stations served - Limerick Colbert, Limerick Junction, Tipperary, Cahir, Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir, Waterford Plunkett, Campile, Ballycullane, Wellingtonbridge, Bridgetown, Rosslare Strand, Rosslare Europort.

The Limerick–Waterford route is the only true non-radial (from Dublin) route still open in Ireland that is not a branch line. The route was commenced in 1848 by the Waterford & Limerick Railway and finished in 1854. From Limerick to Limerick Junction, the line is shared with Dublin-Limerick direct services.

The closure of the Limerick Junction-Rosslare stretch of line has been rumoured for decades but its future seems secure after the Irish government spent €2.6 million to rebuild the Cahir Viaduct after a cement train derailment in 2003.

The line is currently serviced by four daily trains each-way between Waterford and Limerick with a single service each-way between the more lightly used Waterford-Rosslare stretch. The line between Limerick Junction and Rosslare is closed on Sundays.

Republic of Ireland Other Routes

Cork Suburban

The Cork Suburban runs from Mallow to Cobh stopping at Cork, Little Island, Glountaune, Fota Island, Carrigaloe, Rushbrook and finally Cobh.

New stations are to be added in 2008 in Blarney, Monard, Kilbarry, Dunkettle. These have been added for the expansion of Cork-Midleton line re-opening to take place April 2009.

These trains are run by DMUs such as the Iarnród Éireann Class 2600 and 2700 Commuter trains. An occasional 4 piece 2700 set can be seen rarely but usually operates on Sundays and late evening services as they operate the Mallow-Tralee services.


=Galway Suburban=

At present there are no stops between Athenry and Galway. Early Morning and Late evening Commuter services operate between Athlone and Galway. Commuter services are planned with a target date of 2009. It is likely that at least one new station (at Oranmore) will be opened.

Dublin Suburban Rail

See main Dublin Suburban Rail article.

Limerick Suburban

There are three commuter rail lines serving Limerick city and those are the Ennis line, Nenagh line and Limerick Junction line (Tipperary town).

Limerick to Foynes

The line between Limerick and Foynes runs through Raheen, Patrickswell, Adare, Ballingrane Junction (Cappagh)and Askeaton. Built by the former Limerick and Foynes Railway from 1856-1858, it is the remains of the former North Kerry line which was extended from a junction at Ballingrane to Rathkeale and Newcastle West in 1867. The line was further extended by the Limerick and Kerry Railway in 1880 from Newcastle West to Tralee via Listowel. Passenger services were withdrawn throughout on 4 April 1963. The line between Ballingrane and Listowel was closed in November 1975, with the remaining section of the North Kerry between Listowel and Tralee closed completely by June 1978. A junction existed at Patrickswell for the Cork Direct line to Charleville on the Dublin to Cork mainline but this was closed in March 1967 by CIE.

The Foynes line has been effectively closed recently and due to the downgrading of their freight business the seaport is now sending cargo by road, a situation the Port Company would like to reverse. The last freight service was a fertiliser for Athenry on October 30 2000. Possible freight customers have stated that IÉ's intent to pass on the cost of reopening directly via service charges have made freight unviable and thus they have engaged road haulage instead. In December 2001, while not formally closed, the line was designated an engineers siding although IÉ formally is holding the line under "care and maintenance", [http://www.industrialheritageireland.info/railways/foynes/index.htm the line and station infrastructure are showing serious neglect] . The line was last visited by the weedspray train on 7 May 2002 hauled by GM 141 Class No. 154. The last known movement on the line was on 9 January 2003 when a permanent way inspection car visited the line. In 2004 a track panel was placed on the line just outside Limerick Check signal cabin making it impossible for a train to enter the line.

On April 25 2005 Limerick County Council passed a resolution making the Limerick-Foynes line a protected structure. This was stayed by the High Court on June 26 2005 at the request of counsel for Córas Iompair Éireann (parent company of IÉ), who claimed the line was still operational and that the decision would mean any upgrade of the line would require planning permission.

In IÉ's December 2005 working timetable, locomotives have been banned from travelling beyond Ballingrane due to the condition of Robertstown viaduct near Foynes. On 2 November 2007 IÉ disconnected the line from the rest of the system as part of preparation work for the resignalling of Limerick Station which will be completed by 2009, by plain lining the junction with the Castlemungret cement factory siding.

Success with the Ennis and Nenagh commuter routes may lead to a re-opening of part of the line to serve the busy Raheen Industrial Estate and nearby commuter areas but this would require a commitment of funding from government for rolling stock, signalling and station remediation.

Northern Ireland Routes

Services in Northern Ireland are sparse in comparison to the Republic or other countries. A large railway network was severely curtailed in the 1950s and 1960s (in particular by the Ulster Transport Authority). The current situation includes suburban services to Larne, Newry and Bangor, as well as services to Derry. There is also a branch from Coleraine to Portrush.
On Northern Ireland Railways distances are quoted in miles and metres [http://www.raib.gov.uk/cms_resources/070718_R252007_Trooperslane.pdf] .

Belfast Suburban

See main Belfast Suburban Rail article.

Belfast - Derry

The service to Derry has suffered greatly from a lack of funding over recent decades. The existing line is not continuously welded and has speed restrictions in parts. For some time the threat of closure hung over this route but its future was assured in December 2005 with a funding package of some £20 million. The same month saw the introduction of the new CAF railcars on the line and despite the fact that the service remained slower than the Derry-Belfast Ulsterbus service, the improvements saw a rise in passenger numbers to over 1 million per annum. However, these optimistic signs that the line would be retained and possibly upgraded rather than wound down, suffered a blow in 2007 when it was revealed that the £20 million earmarked had not been spent while there had been a £20 million overspend on the Belfast-Bangor line. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6477643.stm] While the "Into the West" [http://www.intothewestrail.com/wiki/pmwiki.php] rail lobby group had proposed extending the line cross border into Donegal to Letterkenny and then onto Sligo thus releasing EU funding [http://socialistenvironmentalalliance.org/cgi-bin/sea/aaSeaStatements/sea0605111_eu_rail_funding.pl] Currently, a plan has been put in place by the Department for Regional Development, for relaying of the track between Derry and Coleraine by 2013, which will include a passing loop, and the introduction of two new train sets. The £86 million plan will reduce the journey time between Belfast and Derry by 30 minutes and allow commuter trains to arrive in Derry before 9am for the first time. There are also calls for Train halts to be located at Limavady, Ballykelly and possibly Eglinton.

Cross-Border

:Stations served - Dublin Connolly, Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry, Portadown, Belfast Central

This service, named 'Enterprise', is jointly run by Northern Ireland Railways and IÉ. Despite having some of the most modern intercity rolling stock on the island, it has been dogged by numerous problems. An historical problem on this route has been disruption to services caused by security alerts (devices on the line, hoax devices, threats and warnings). These continue to the present day.

The punctuality on this service remains poor for other reasons also. The intercity route, despite being mostly high quality continuous welded rail, is shared with suburban services outside both Belfast and Dublin. Unfortunately these are the busiest suburban routes on the island while only double-track is provided, hence very little mishap is required to disrupt the Enterprise service. In theory the trip should take 2 hours and 10 minutes – there have been occasions where this has become almost 5 hours. To drive between the cities (which is nearly all motorway/dual carriageway) can take under 2 hours, although congestion can be expected, especially at peak times.

A further problem is due to the locomotive and rolling stock arrangements. Unlike most other locomotive-hauled rolling stock in Ireland, generator vans are not part of the train – even the DVTs do not supply power. Thus the General Motors-built locomotives must supply head-end power for lighting and heating throughout the train. Although many types of locomotive are well-designed for this purpose, these particular locomotives have struggled under the extra strain. The wear on the locos and time out of service are unusually high. On at least two occasions locomotives have burst into flames while shuttling along the route.

Freight

IÉ closed its container rail freight business on 29 July 2005, saying that the sector had accounted for 10% of its freight business, but 70% of its losses. Container freight levels had dropped to c.35 containers on three trains per day. [http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0610/D.0610.200511240020.html] . Yet Iarnród Éireann estimated that a minimum of 18 40-foot containers were needed for a commercially viable train load.

The impact of this will be about 40 more lorries a day, described by Iarnród Éireann as a 'drop in the ocean' when compared to the 10,000 lorries entering Dublin Port every day. Nevertheless, the annual impact of this will shift about 70 million tonne-kilometres to the road network.

As of July 2006, the Container Gantries at Mallow and Sligo have been removed, Limerick’s Gantry yard is now a car park and the bulk of Cork’s freight yard is primed for development.

Bord na Móna operates an extensive 1,930 kilometres (1,200 miles) narrow gauge railway. This is one of the largest industrial rail networks in Europe and is completely separate from Ireland's passenger rail system operated by Iarnród Éireann. It is used to transport Peat from harvesting plots to processing plants and power stations of the Electricity Supply Board.

References

ee also

* Heritage railways in the Republic of Ireland
* Heritage railways in Northern Ireland
* Platform 11
* Transport 21

External links

* [http://IrishRailwayTechnologyandinformation/_whatsnew IRTi - Irish Railways News and Operations Message Group & Forum]
* [http://www.meathontrack.com Meath on Track]
* [http://www.rpa.ie/ Railway Procurement Agency]
* [http://www.meath.ie/planning/Clonsilla_M3InterchangeLine/Clon_Dunb_M3FeasibilityReport.pdf Clonsilla-M3 Feasibility Report (Irish Rail)]
* [http://www.meathontrack.com/navandroghedarailway.html Photo Survey of Navan's existing railway line]
* [http://www.dto.ie/platform.pdf Platform For Change (Dublin Transportation Office)]
* [http://www.transport.ie/upload/general/3230-0.pdf Strategic Rail Review 2003 (Department of Transport)]
* [http://www.platform11.org/ Ireland's National Rail Users Lobby]
* [http://www.irishrailwaynews.com Irish Railway News -reporting on all aspects of irish railways]
* [http://www.industrialheritageireland.info/railways/index.htm Ireland's railway built heritage]
* [http://www.europrail.net/ For Eurail Passes]


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