Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

What about this?

Posted in Ireland, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 25 August 2010

The question of traction is an important one if you want to run trains, and we all know that Iarnród Éireann don’t really want to provide rolling stock for other operators. Of course, it’s likely that they would sell (if that were their intention) their Mark 3 coaches to any reasonable bidder if they were safe in the knowledge that there was no one on the island of Ireland that could pull them. Which leads me to a discussion started on the Save the Rosslare-Waterford Facebook page that I began when I posted the article from the Belfast Telegraph about Ireland’s state operator looking to offload their Mark 3s. The discussion first went to the loading gauge of the Rosslare-Waterford line, and whether Mark 3 coaches could be used. The last time locomotive hauled trains were used was prior to 2005, when CIÉ’s old “Cravens” stock was used. As a comparison:

  “Cravens” Mark 3
Length 62ft 8in 75ft
Width 9ft 6in 8ft 11in
Height 12ft 7.5in 12ft 9in
Weight 28tons 32 tons

So, to me at any rate, provided there are no massive height issues along the route, and fewer coaches are used, the Mark 3s would seem to be able to be used on the line. But then you come to traction. The 201 Class, Iarnród Éireann’s main locomotive type, is huge – a 112 ton, 68ft long turbocharged brute which would probably fall through the trackbed of the Rosslare-Waterford. So, one person in this Facebook discussion came up with a good point when he said that “the most ideal loco that IE had up to recently was the 141/181 class”. These two classes, virtually identical, were the main mixed traffic locomotives for many years in Ireland, and were only withdrawn once large scale introduction of DMUs, combined with the scaling back of freight operations, took place. As you would probably imagine, Iarnród Éireann will likely sell most of these for scrap, in spite of their potential continued usefulness. However, at least four of these locomotives have been spared the cutting torch, as they have been purchased by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland and the Irish Traction Group. Railway preservation is an expensive business, whether you’re running a heritage railway or maintaining locomotives. So, in Great Britain, various locomotive owners have hit upon a fabulous way of making money – they hire their locomotives out, not just for charter trains, but also for ordinary main line workings, whether passenger or freight. An example – in 2007, while undergoing deep maintenance, one of Hull Trains’ Class 222 units was badly damaged, leaving it unavailable for an extended period of time. Owing to the small size of the Hull Trains fleet, alternative stock had to be sourced quickly. As a stop gap prior to a more permanent solution being found, Hull Trains obtained the use of 86101, a preserved Class 86 locomotive owned by the AC Locomotive Group, together with a rake of coaches. This locomotive was used on regular passenger trains until the operator could obtain the Class 180 units it required. Similarly, and assuming that the necessary passenger vehicles could be obtained, why not go to the RPSI or the ITG with a view to hiring their 141 and 181 Class locomotives to operate trains on the Rosslare-Waterford? This could at the very least be a stop-gap measure until more suitable multiple unit stock (such as the Class 450 units from Northern Ireland) became available. Given that both heritage organisations already operate their own railtours, they have experience of running passenger trains, while the locomotives have only recently been withdrawn from main line service, and so should have all the necessary safety equipment installed. How is that as an idea?

A pair of preserved 141 Class locomotives haul a railtour. Could these be a stop-gap answer to the idea of open-access on the Rosslare-Waterford?


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  1. […] And the only source of those in Ireland, realistically, is Iarnród Éireann. Even with the idea I suggested of using heritage locomotives to pull coaches, the coaches would still need to be obtained, and I […]

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