The story of the spoil trains

Mid and East Antrim Council are hosting an online event on the subject of the Spoil Trains, which were used in motorway construction in Belfast.

The event, which takes place on 3 June 2021 at 19:00 is free but registration is required, which can be done here.


Victorian Dublin’s Port and the Diving Bell

H/T to Ron Cox for bringing this 3 lecture series to my attention.

To mark 150 years of the first use of the diving bell in Dublin, Dublin Port are hosting a series of 3 online lectures.

These take place on 27th May, 3rd June and 10th June at 18:30.

Registration is required – further details can be found here.


Northern Ireland’s Railway Network

The BBC have an article summarising why Northern Ireland’s railway network closed and suggestions for future line re-openings.

Normally such articles need to be commented on from an accuracy point of view, however, the BBC did the sensible thing and talked to the right people – in this case Charles Friel and Robert Gardiner – with the result that there is nothing therein that needs correction.

IH News 2021

Love letter from Irish Rail

I received a letter from my friends in Irish Rail today – well, technically they weren’t writing specifically to me – it was a generic brochure addressed to the house, advertising the commencement of the first public consultation process in connection with extending the DART to Hazelhatch and Celbridge.

As the DART is planned to pass south of Ballyfermot with no station provided, it is as useful to the people of Ballyfermot (and me) as tits on a bull.

Separately, aware of the consultation process starting, I visited Irish Rail’s website yesterday and downloaded all the documents in connection with DART South West thereon – some light reading for the weekend!


Baldrick’s drunken run in with the Grand Canal

The Irish Independent reports on a court case involving a soldier by the name of Baldrick, going on a barefoot, drunken walkabout in Rathmines. This culminated in him crossing a lock on the Grand Canal, running the risk of falling in.

After a good sob story, the normal course of events for District Court hearings in Ireland took place and he was let off with a donation to charity.


The long term future of the Howth Branch

If you were building a rapid transit network from scratch in Dublin, it is unlikely that you would build a railway or tram to Howth.

A former island, it is nowadays accessible by road and rail across a low lying isthmus but, with climate change en route, how long will this last?

In addition, there are capacity issues on the DART line north of Connolly Station and therefore, the question is, is there a better way to deal with the Howth Branch?

It would be an interesting exercise to see if a LUAS line could be routed through Drumcondra, Whitehall and Coolock to Howth Junction, with the Howth Branch then being rebuilt as a LUAS line, with appropriate elevation from Sutton east.

Such a route would improve public transport in the Whitehall/Coolock areas and removing the Howth branch from the DART network would free up capacity on the DART line for future expansion to Drogheda.


The long term future of the DART line south of Sydney Parade

Just as climate change is likely to raise the sea level, putting the railway between Greystones and Wicklow underwater, the same applies to the DART line between Sydney Parade and Dun Laoghaire. In addition, the DART line between Dun Laoghaire and Glenageary is not conducive to higher speeds due to the curvature caused by the decision of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway to not get an Act of Parliament to build the Atmospheric Railway extension to Dalkey, following the route of the pre-existing Dalkey Quarry tramway instead. In addition, the section from Dun Laoghaire to Sandycove is prone to flooding.

With Irish Rail seeking to fundamentally reconstruct the railway network in Dublin through the building of DART interconnector, now would be the time to shout “Stop” and figure out how a DART network absent the line to Bray would look like.

This is not to suggest that rail based transport to the coastal region of south Dublin be abolished. It would be possible to terminate DART services at Grand Canal Dock and have a new LUAS station immediately south of this, being the northern terminus of a new LUAS line along the existing alignment as far as Sydney Parade, before moving inland to the Rock Road and hence south to Dun Laoghaire and beyond. The existing railway alignment could be taken up again at Sandycove – rebuilding the DART line south of there as a LUAS line. The abandoned railway line from Sandycove to Sydney Parade would be an excellent greenway.

At Bray, the new LUAS line could run on an elevated section above the Dargle, ultimately heading west until it met the new Rosslare Line (see previous post) at which point it would terminate with an interchange station.


The long term future of the Rosslare Line

We know Irish Rail would prefer to be shot of the railway to Rosslare, cutting it back to Gorey or even Arklow, but that is not the subject of this post.

We know that the decision to build a LUAS line along the Harcourt Street line, rather than a heavy rail operation, was a mistake as this is causing capacity issues.

We know there is the potential for climate change and with it, rising sea levels. This latter will cast significant doubt about the future of the railway between Greystones and Wicklow Town and further north, between Bray and Killiney and from Dun Laoghaire into Dublin city.

We also know that the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) has a housing shortage and one county in the GDA that has refused to play a significant part in the provision of housing close to Dublin is Wicklow.

Taking all of these together, it is time for some blue sky thinking and I would like to advocate a brand new railway from Rathnew, Co. Wicklow, to around Carrickmines, Co. Dublin.

This would allow for the abandonment of the existing coastal railway from Wicklow Town to Greystones and the rerouting of the Rosslare mainline service to a new terminus at Grand Parade in Dublin.

Whether this line would be 5’3″ (requiring gradual closing of the existing LUAS line from the southern end up as it gets regauged) or, a longer term plan of regauging the Rosslare line to 4’8½” is a matter for discussion. Longer term, the latter is probably more sensible.

The time to consider such a plan is now as with Metrolink due to terminate at Charlemont, rather than continue along the Harcourt Street line, an opportunity to plan afresh exists.

In addition, through the use of SDZs, the new line heading south from Carrickmines could be tied in with planning permission for new housing in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and Wicklow Counties, thereby part financing the line and being an act of sensible planning.


A glass to your health

The BBC reports that an alcoholic drink made from apples grown in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has been seized by Ukranian authorities before it could be exported to the UK.

Notwithstanding its origin, the manufacturers claim that it is “no more radioactive than any other vodka”.

As a teetotaler, I won’t be partaking of this new product but wish its producers well.


Cobh Heritage Centre visitor 1995

RTE Archives have thrown up another gem – whilst I was aware of the accident, I had never seen images of it before!

In 1995, a train overran the buffer stops in Cobh and ploughed through the wall of the heritage centre located in the building behind. The RTE piece includes footage of the locomotive from both inside and outside the building.