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The Future of Rail in Ireland

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,735 Irish and Proud


    I think we may need to rethink our railways and their role in the country. Look at general internation trends, the railways that are being built are either high-speed intercity lines or high capacity commuter/metro lines. In the case of Ireland, I think we need to look at the type of railways we need, and where we need them. This may mean the construction and upgrade of certain lines and the closure of other less trafficked lines. So in getting down to business in relation to IE, the types would be

    1) Intercity (should be 145-200kph)
    2) Commuter (generally Leinster, Cork, Galway)
    3) Dart (high capacity, high frequency)

    Now, the Intercity Lines could be:

    Intercity 1 (Dublin to Belfast 160kph max)
    - Double Track - Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry, Portadown;
    Intercity 2 (Dublin to Galway 145kph max)
    - Mostly Single Track - Tullamore, Athlone;
    Intercity 3 (Dublin to Cork 200kph max)
    - Double Track - Thurles, Limerick Junction, Mallow;
    Intercity 4 (Dublin to Waterford 145kph max)
    - SingleTrack - Carlow, Kilkenny (turnaround);
    Intercity 5 (Waterford to Galway 145kph max - major work needed)
    - SingleTrack - Clonmel, Limerick Junction, Limerick (turnaround), Ennis;

    The Commuter Lines could be:

    Dublin Commuter
    Commuter 1 (Dublin Docklands to Dundalk)
    - most stations via Navan (turnaround) and Drogheda (turnaround);
    Commuter 2 (Dublin Docklands to Mullingar)
    - Glasnevin, Castleknock, then all stations from Maynooth;
    Commuter 3 (Dublin Heuston to Portlaoise)
    - Hazelhatch, then all stations to Portlaoise;
    Commuter 4 (Dublin Heuston to Carlow);
    - Hazelhatch, then all stations to Carlow;
    Commuter 5 (Bray Daly to Gorey)
    - all stations served - use Dart 1 to Dublin;

    Galway Commuter (Intercity Line 2 Terminus)
    Commuter 201 (Tuam to Galway);

    Cork Commuter (Intercity Line 3 Terminus)
    Commuter 301 (Cork to Mallow);
    Commuter 302 (Cork to Middleton);
    Commuter 303 (Cork to Cobh);

    Limerick Commuter (Intercity Line 5 Station)
    Commuter 501 (Limerick to Ennis);
    Commuter 501 (Limerick to Nenagh);

    The Dart Lines would be:

    Dart 1 (Bray to Maynooth - via new tunnel under D15)
    Dart 2 (Hazelhatch to Malahide/Howth - via interconnector)
    Dart 3 (Dun Laoghaire to M3 P+R - via D15 Tunnel)
    Dart 4 (Connolly to Drogheda via - North City Express Tunnel)

    The North City Express Tunnel would effectively quad-track the Northern Line and allow the existing line to become a full metro style DART line. The D15 tunnel would route the Western DART line through the centre of Blanchardstown's urban footplate and allow the line along the edge to become and express link for long distance commuter trains.

    I've run out of time, so I'll leave it to you guys to discuss! I just want to know what people think and if there's anythink I've overlooked.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    So Irish and Proud no room in your bold new scheme of things for the Rosslare line south of Gorey, the Sligo line west of Mullingar or the Mallow/Tralee section - unless I have missed something. This is just a recipe for more surgery on a patient already near to flat lining in intensive care - the railway cannot take any more amputations. It's time to decide whether we need a railway system or not and take whatever action follows from that.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 118 ✭✭ StephenM_smc


    If Sligo was dropped, is there any long term future in Galway? Since there is a ~2hr Motorway link from Dublin, and a bus service that is as cheap as €1 each way, so why would the train maintain a reasonable market in the long run?

    Similarly for Cork there's a much faster and often cheaper air link instead. I wonder how much of an effect that has had on patronage?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 17,738 ✭✭✭✭ corktina


    an effect that will only increase the miove from rail to road as the months and years roll by.... there will be no movement back the other way I fear.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,419 ✭✭✭ Cool Mo D


    There is a future in intercity rail in Ireland - but obviously some investment and
    imagination is needed. The basic network is there - what are needed are speed improvements, punctual trains, good customer service, and sensible timetables.

    At the moment, journey times on the main intercity routes are as follows

    Dublin - Cork: 2h50
    Dublin - Galway 2h40
    Dublin - Limerick 2h20 (chaging at Limerick Junction)
    Dublin - Waterford 2h20
    Dublin - Belfast 2h10
    Dublin - Sligo 3h05
    Dublin - Tralee 4h00
    Dublin - Castlebar 3h20
    Dublin - Wexford 2h35

    What they should be, to be competitive:

    Dublin - Cork: 2h15
    Dublin - Galway 2h00
    Dublin - Limerick 2h00, with a direct route via Nenagh and Roscrea 1h50 via LJ
    Dublin - Waterford 2h00
    Dublin - Belfast 1h45
    Dublin - Sligo 2h39

    I'm leaving out the rest, as I don't think they could justify investment on their own, but will benefit from spending on the rest.

    Some moderate investments that need to be made are:
    Permanently fix all speed restrictions on all intercity lines
    Direct route to Limerick with straight diverge of the main line before Ballybrophy - finish CWR on Nenagh line, to serve Nenagh and Roscrea.
    Build a line from Maynooth to Hazelhatch for Sligo trains and Mullingar commuter. This would allow the line to be dedicated to DARTs from Maynooth in, and knock at least 20 minutes off journey times - currently 40 mins Connolly to Maynooth!
    Grade separation of both lines at Limerick Junction, with two platforms for each line to allow 4 trains to meet together - would allow a direct Galway - Waterford service with a journey time of under 4 hours.

    Double track extensions - Galway to Oranmore, Limerick to Limerich Junction.

    BUT ALSO - dynamic passing loops. Used all over the place on single track Swiss routes - they are sections of double track about 10 - 20 km long at appropriate places to allow trains to pass at full speed without waiting at stations. Use on Galway and Waterford lines to tighten up timetables.

    On the Belfast line, it's hard to do much this side of the border without major investment. However, better timetabling would improve times to Drogheda slightly. But the major problems with the route are speed restrictions North of the border. It takes under an hour to Dundalk, which is about half way.

    Doing all this would have an intercity and regional network that would serve almost every single major town in the country, and with properly timetabled connections, you could travel from any city in Ireland to any other with one change, and you would have train services that easily beat the car city centre to city centre.

    Also, all cities need a train that gets to Dublin by 8.30am and leaves after 7pm, and Cork, Belfast, Limerick and Galway at the very least need to be reachable from Dublin before 8.30am, and have a late evening return.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 304 ✭✭ runway16


    Whats also needed is improvements to public transport in the cities. If you cant reach where you need to be in the city once you arrive at the intercity station, the train becomes a non-viable option.

    If Intercity rail is to have a future, the whole public transport equation needs to be addressed.

    Personally, I dont have the same disatisfaction with the trains that many have. Granted, I dont need to use them often, but when I do, the journey is comfortable, the trains are nice, clean and modern and fares are decent enough by international standards. Information has become more readily available, and the intercity journeys now have a quality feel to them.

    IE do get some things right - what needs to be worked on now, are speeds and connections


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,110 KevR


    A station is being planned for Oranmore but I personally think they will make a mess of it. Single platform, no passing loop and only 100 parking spaces.

    100 car parking spaces is hardly ambitous for a Park and Ride station near a busy motoroway and in a town with a population of over 3,000 itself. The NRA are predicting 52,000 (26,000 each way) cars every day on the M6 at Oranmore after the M17/18 connects to the M6.

    They are also planning a station for Crusheen (population 700 approx). Nothing planned for Renmore (population 5,000; thousands more if you include other surrounding areas). Renmore station would be within walking distance of GMIT which has 5,000-6,000 students at it's Galway campus and suffers from bad parking problems. Seems absolutely mental to me that Crusheen is being pushed ahead of Renmore.

    Overall, I think that there is a lot of potential for commuter rail in Galway but I'm not at all optimistic that this potential will ever be realised. Proper stations in Oranmore (with lots of parking and proper connecting bus services) and Renmore (with proper connecting bus services) would do way more to relieve traffic in East Galway City and the City Centre than any amount of random bus/cycle lanes ever will.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,735 Irish and Proud


    So Irish and Proud no room in your bold new scheme of things for the Rosslare line south of Gorey, the Sligo line west of Mullingar or the Mallow/Tralee section - unless I have missed something. This is just a recipe for more surgery on a patient already near to flat lining in intensive care - the railway cannot take any more amputations. It's time to decide whether we need a railway system or not and take whatever action follows from that.

    ...omg, you don't miss too many tricks mate! :D

    However on the point of surgery, international experience in recent decades seems to have established roles for the various modes of transport. Railways are taken out where they are not viable, some motorways are being ripped out of inner cities where they simply don't belong - in Paris, they're going to take out some of the traffic underpasses along the Seine - with the large peripheral motorway (nearly as wide as the M50) and extensive metro system, they're probably no longer really needed. They will be replaced with riverside walks.

    What I'm writing here is just a point of view - I'm not campaigning, just trying to start a discussion about our railways - for example, if there are enough people using the South Eastern Line all the way to Wexford, then it may be viable and maybe my idea (a loose idea at that) for terminating the trains at Gorey may be totally wrong. The same may apply to the Sligo intercity line - OK, confession - I was trying to rob the Dublin to Mullingar section of the line for DART and Commuter purposes - well you didn't let me away with it! :o I can't see how the Westport and Ballina Lines could be viable though - if anyone knows to the contrary, please shout!!! Now, for the explanation of my first post here...

    As it happens, I'm a fan of both roads and railways, but have now accepted where both modes are most appropriate to build or maintain. Take Dublin inside the M50, apart from the DPT there is no argument for constructing a motorway there (if any were built, there would now probably be talk of ripping them out). Whats most appropriate there are Tramways, QBCs (which do require good roads like the Stillorgan DC but not motorways), and metro lines. Almost everybody accepts that the thinking of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s is faulty where road building was seen as the ultimate solution.

    Take the Dublin commuter belt outside the M50 (50 mile radius), both road and rail would be appropriate there. The greater distances involved there would require higher capacity motorways, DART Lines and Long Distance Commuter Lines. The other important factor is the high population density in relation to the country as a whole. Futher out across the rest of the country, Long Distance High Speed Motorways are required between the major population centres, as are High Speed Railways (In terms of speed, the railways should easily win out against the motorways). Provincial Services would have no place on a high speed line, such rail routes would require large population centres to feed them. Provincial Transport Services should be in the form of buses along upgraded roads. IMO, there is a market for high speed rail travel - what people seem to forget is that buses can do only 80kph which is rubbish compared to the 145kph that trains can reach even today, let along what they could reach with serious investment in the railways.

    What I'm really about is streamlining and strengthening railways to such an extent that buses wouldn't stand a chance - even recently, I took the train and the journey to Cork was about 2:50hrs, but took a bus another day and take a guess (either private or public buses): over 4:00hrs - over and hour in the difference with one stop for the shop and toilet. Rail AFAIK is now €10 each way as opposed to about €15 return for the bus - don't think rail is much more expensive now - even if it was €70 return until recently. I would like the get to rail journey to under 2:00 hrs from Dublin to Cork - even the planes would be found wanting - €80 return - 0:30hrs for the flight itself, but then there are the waiting times, the trips to and from the airports etc as well as the extra costs of local transport.

    Regards!


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,678 ✭✭✭✭ Zebra3


    Cool Mo D wrote: »
    Build a line from Maynooth to Hazelhatch for Sligo trains and Mullingar commuter. This would allow the line to be dedicated to DARTs from Maynooth in, and knock at least 20 minutes off journey times - currently 40 mins Connolly to Maynooth!

    I like this idea.

    How expensive would a line from between Maynooth and LLB to the line around Hazelhatch be? I'm sure it could be routed through mainly open countryside.


  • Registered Users Posts: 618 johnnyc


    Just wondering what about relaying a few new lines linking the cities together, by following the motorway network? if that makes any sense the orignal lines are probably close to full capacity.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,735 Irish and Proud


    Zebra3 wrote: »
    I like this idea.

    How expensive would a line from between Maynooth and LLB to the line around Hazelhatch be? I'm sure it could be routed through mainly open countryside.

    Such a line would make things very workable in light of both maintaining an intercity line to Sligo (if the passenger numbers are there and I'm proven wrong...), plus implementing metro style DART services. The enhanced DART services (with the interconnector) would make terminating the Sligo Intercity trains at Connolly simply impractical - that would leave either Docklands (DARTs would be diverted under Castleknock and Blanchardstown with the plan I posted above - so DART 1 conflict would be minimised for both the Sligo Intercity and Western Commuter services), or a rail link from Maynooth to Heuston - I prefer the latter for the Sligo Intercity if there is a need for same. The Docklands Station would serve both Commuter 1 (Navan, Drogheda and Dundalk) and Commuter 2 (Mullingar). With the rail link in question, Heuston would do all intercity services out of Dublin with the exception of the Intercity 1 Line (Belfast Enterprise).

    Wonder where all the money will come form though? Well maybe if we stopped propping up unviable industries with cap-in-hand payments and got real about our pensions - I mean everybody's including myself!!! We need to focus more on the common good (for the good of all our people), instead of the "big me" which in the end of the day, serves only the good of a few!

    Regards!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,858 paulm17781


    The enhanced DART services (with the interconnector) would make terminating the Sligo Intercity trains at Connolly simply impractical -

    No, quite the opposite is true.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,735 Irish and Proud


    paulm17781 wrote: »
    No, quite the opposite is true.

    I not sure about that...

    ...there are basically two parellel railways (I know they had been recently reconfigured) immediately North of Connolly, the Northern Line and the Loop Line which continues on to Drumcondra, Glasnevin Junction etc. The Loop Line in its entirity would become DART 1, as would platforms 6 & 7. Starting a Western Commuter/Sligo Sevice on Platforms 4 & 5 would result in trains having to cross over the DART 1 line - if this line is to be of metro standard in terms of frequency, then I think that's a no no - a flyover would be required. I don't know if it would be possible to run Dart 1 on platforms 5 & 6, but IMO that would be an inferior option for DART 1 (island platforms seem standard for metro lines internationally) and I guess Platform 7 would only allow limited operations for the Western Line, some trains would still have to go to Docklands.

    Now, with the interconnector and some form of Northern DART Line quadtracking, the aim would be to have two metro style (no timetable required on central sections just like LUAS) DART Lines - to have this would mean the elimination of all services other than DART on the DART Lines within the M50 area where frequency would be greatest (4-8 min (3-6 eventually)headway). Northern Line quad-tracking would allow the Enterprise and Commuter (though I did propose a diversion of the Northern Commuter via Navan) services to use seperate tracks into Connolly, as would be the case for much of the Western/Navan Commuter Line into Docklands. The express tracks could also be used for DARTs coming in from Drogheda.

    Also, with DART tunnels under Castleknock and Blanchardstown, segregation further along the Western Line would be possible to as far as Clonsilla where the Navan branch would diverge. The aim of these tunnels would be to route the DART 1 line through the urbanised areas rather then along the edge of it (as is now the situation), as well as DART and Commuter segregation.

    Just checked the Live Train updates and my train is due soon, so I must go...

    Regards!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,511 saywhatyousee


    hmm is'nt the sligo dublin rail line not the most profitable in the country?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    hmm is'nt the sligo dublin rail line not the most profitable in the country?

    As far as I know the Luas is the only 'railway' in the country that is currently turning a profit.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 228 ✭✭ wild handlin


    As far as I know the Luas is the only 'railway' in the country that is currently turning a profit.

    What about Navan - Drogheda?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,032 DWCommuter


    What about Navan - Drogheda?

    Its a particular service operated on a particular line. The "Railway network" (CIE/IE) is not turning a profit.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 228 ✭✭ wild handlin


    DWCommuter wrote: »
    Its a particular service operated on a particular line. The "Railway network" (CIE/IE) is not turning a profit.

    Cheers DW, I thought JD was meaning railway lines, and not railway companies.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,374 ✭✭✭✭ foggy_lad


    The future of rail in Ireland is non-existent as far as I can see now! I am on the 13.05 service from connolly to sligo and it is a disgrace!

    Irish rail expect people to sit in a noisy uncomfortable dingy 29000 railcar for three hours on some of the worst rail in the country!

    And surely having a snacks trolley and serving hot drinks on this roller coaster is unsafe and against all health and safety regulations?

    To top this the railcart does not even have any markings indicating its intended destination!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 17,738 ✭✭✭✭ corktina


    are you afraid it might turn off at Coollooney Junction????:)


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,830 ✭✭✭ markpb


    foggy_lad wrote: »
    Irish rail expect people to sit in a noisy uncomfortable dingy 29000 railcar for three hours on some of the worst rail in the country!

    IIRC The railcar problem is because a TD from Sligo stuck his nose in and said that the old IC carriages weren't good enough for Sligo people and demanded that new carriages be used. Since the 29Ks hadn't arrived, the only way to appease him was to give you railcars. Blame your old politicians :D


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,374 ✭✭✭✭ foggy_lad


    markpb wrote: »
    IIRC The railcar problem is because a TD from Sligo stuck his nose in and said that the old IC carriages weren't good enough for Sligo people and demanded that new carriages be used. Since the 29Ks hadn't arrived, the only way to appease him was to give you railcars. Blame your old politicians :D
    The return trip from sligo has a wheelchair passenger on board but no wheelchair accessible toilet on the railcart!

    As for political intervention the new intercity trains were being used to go to sligo but for some reason now half the trips are being made in these awful commuter carts!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,511 saywhatyousee


    foggy_lad wrote: »
    The future of rail in Ireland is non-existent as far as I can see now! I am on the 13.05 service from connolly to sligo and it is a disgrace!

    Irish rail expect people to sit in a noisy uncomfortable dingy 29000 railcar for three hours on some of the worst rail in the country!

    And surely having a snacks trolley and serving hot drinks on this roller coaster is unsafe and against all health and safety regulations?

    To top this the railcart does not even have any markings indicating its intended destination!

    odd the 22000 run on the sligo -dublin line u must of got unlucky.i agree the 29k where probaly the worst rail-car ever


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,374 ✭✭✭✭ foggy_lad


    odd the 22000 run on the sligo -dublin line u must of got unlucky.i agree the 29k where probaly the worst rail-car ever
    the railcart i was on was a 29000 a real bone-shaker and noisy as hell. i am surprised nobody scalded themselves with hot tea!


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,932 ✭✭✭ hinault


    I commute by train daily to Dublin and I notice that there are few carriages on each train journey, each time.

    Dublin/Limerick, Dublin/Cork, Dublin/Tralee trains all had far more carriages available previously than they have this years.

    Yes, I know that train commuter headcount is down but the carriage numbers are also down too.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 17,738 ✭✭✭✭ corktina


    cant speak for other lines but Dublin to Cork has the same fixed formation trains as last year and previously.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,678 ✭✭✭✭ Zebra3


    Was on the Sligo-Dublin train last week and got stuck at Edgeworthtown for 20 mins while waiting on the train to Sligo to passby. :mad:

    There is going to have to be double tracking of more of this line or else this service is finished.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    Zebra3 wrote: »
    Was on the Sligo-Dublin train last week and got stuck at Edgeworthtown for 20 mins while waiting on the train to Sligo to passby. :mad:

    There is going to have to be double tracking of more of this line or else this service is finished.

    Well then it is going to close as there is no way any double tracking is likely.


  • Registered Users Posts: 181 ✭✭ e-sull


    one major word that needs to be thrown at the government: privatisation.

    also wouldnt re-opening the tralee - limerick line slash journey times for us ever-neglected and seemily hated-by-irish-rail kerry passengers?


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,549 Judgement Day


    e-sull wrote: »
    one major word that needs to be thrown at the government: privatisation.

    also wouldnt re-opening the tralee - limerick line slash journey times for us ever-neglected and seemily hated-by-irish-rail kerry passengers?

    How on earth to you suggest that the North Kerry line should be reopened? It is now a walkway for large parts and the Rathkeale bypass is built on it amongst other things. If I was you, I would be more concerned about retaining the line to Mallow as it is on the CIE/IE hit-list for closure.


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