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 the capacity issues this has led to is causing 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, the longer term plan of regauging the Rosslare line to 4’8 ½” 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.

IH News 2021

Templepatrick Station building

The former station building in Templepatrick, Co. Antrim is for sale at what appears to be a reasonable price of Stg£165,000.

Except for it being in Northern Ireland, I think I’d be putting in an offer.

IH News 2021

Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny

RTE reports that the Smithwicks Experience in Kilkenny, which was a Diageo owned visitor experience focusing on Smithwicks, is to close permanently as a result of Government lockdowns.

I suppose if it saves one life………..

IH News 2021

Greenways galore

Another day, another greenway proposal for something that won’t be useable unless you live within 5km of it and have an appropriate social credit score.

Per the Leitrim Observer, Leitrim County Council have issued a tender for the design and preliminary route selection of a greenway on the former Sligo Leitrim and Northern Counties Railway trackbed.

The article contains a prime example of the inability of the MSM to actually get their facts correct (and they wonder why the MSM is in financial difficulty?). It claims that:

The simplicity of using the closed railway route is that the route is used on license from Irish Rail if it is ever needed for a new railway in the future.

I obviously missed the bit in Irish railway history where the SL&NCR was bought by GSR/CIE, thereby giving them the trackbed. The last time I checked, the SL&NCR, being a cross border railway, was excluded from the merger of all railway companies wholly within the Free State in the 1920s and it continued on as an independent concern until the Government of Northern Ireland closed the connecting line through Enniskillen by fiat, thereby rendering the SL&NCR economically defunct.

IH News 2021

Down the rabbit hole

I give up.

As if the madness around a virus with an IFR of 0.15% (i.e. 99.85% of people who get this virus don’t die) wasn’t bad enough, the Irish Government (which is borrowing billions to pay people to not work who should be working and paying people to work (public servants) who shouldn’t be working) intends to spaff some more money on the dead horse that is the Ulster Canal.

I had to read the press release many times to understand what is being funded (it is a very clever spinning of words which looks like it is promising a lot but is actually delivering the sum total of sweet fuck all) and all it is is an open air swimming pool in Clones, which they have mislabeled as a marina.

At this stage, I almost wish that there was a deadly virus that was wiping out the world’s population.

Edit 02/05/2021: Below is a map of the area and canal I prepared many years ago, which I have updated by highlighting the section of canal to be “restored” in continuous dark blue. This will be a disjointed section from nowhere to nowhere. The dotted blue either side is the derelict canal.

Ulster Canal Map
Clones to Wattlebridge
Ulster Canal Map – Clones to Wattlebridge. Copyright Ewan Duffy 2021.

The Dolphin’s Barn brickworks

H/T to Ron Cox and Mary Liz McCarthy of the IHAI for details of this online talk about the Dolphin’s Barn Brickworks company and the people associated with it.

The talk takes place on 6th May at 11:00 – registration is required. See the link above for details.