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Train journey time on the Dublin - Cork line

  • 18-09-2010 3:52pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,419 ✭✭✭ Cool Mo D


    I've been geeky, and looked closely at the timetabled journey times on the Dublin - Cork line.

    The line is 266 km long, and the average trip takes about 2 hours 50 minutes, with an average speed of 94km/h.


    Looking closer at the timetable, however, it is very clear that the line speed varies quite a lot along the route.

    I've broken the route into 5 sections, corresponding to the 5 most important stops on the route The times underneath are the journey time if the average speeds indicated for each section are met:
    Distance (km)	Min Speed	Max Speed	Average speed		Improved track		Upgraded track	
    Dublin - Portlaoise	          82                86.32	94.62	            90.26	            130.00	            160
    Portlaoise - Thurles	          57	            106.88	117.93		   114.21	            120.00	            130
    Thurles-Limerick Junction	  33	            76.15	86.09	            80.26	            100.00	            130
    Limerick Junction - Mallow	  60	            102.86	120.00	    	   111.60	            120.00	            120
    Mallow - Cork	                  34	            56.67	72.86	            61.50	            90.00	            100
    
    	                     	  Est. Time	   3:06	        2:42	            2:54	            2:18	            2:02
    

    All times above are stop-to-stop times taken from the weekday Dublin-Cork timetable, using only the Dublin-Cork direction from the timetable.

    As you can see, using IE's current best timetabled times, it would be possible to run a 2hour 40minute Dublin - Cork service with 4 stops.

    The fastest parts of the line are between Portlaoise and Thurles, and Limerick Junction and Mallow, where sustained ~120 km/h running is achieved.

    The slowest parts are the hilly run into Cork, approaching Limerick Junction, and perhaps surprisingly, on the busier section between Heuston and Portlaoise.

    This seems to indicate, that with minimal investment, journey times could be slashed on the route.

    From Heuston to Portlaoise is the heart of the inter-city network, with most inter-city trains in the country using this section. It needs to be the fastest track in the country, but it clearly is no-where near it. If the track was brought up to 90mph standard - not expensive, along with Limerick junction being fixed, and improvements into Cork, a 2hour 20 minute journey is easily possible.

    If Dublin - Portlaoise is brought to 200 kmh standard, a 2 hour service is attainable - as well as hugely helping Waterford, Limerick, Mayo, and Galway trains.

    In conclusion - first fixing Heuston - Portlaoise, and then upgrading it to 200 km/h is central to having viable intercity services in this country, and it doesn't require a fortune.

    Why is this not a priority for Irish Rail?


Comments

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,048 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011


    Our train sets can't do 200km/h, a bit more of a problem than the trackwork. They should ensure the ENTIRE route is capable of 160km/h running, but bear in mind that each stop takes longer off the time the faster the train can run.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,032 DWCommuter


    With all due respect, you can break down the numbers until you are blue in the face. In the early to mid 70s CIE were aiming for a Cork run of 2.5 hours. Still hasn't happened. In the early 90s CIE were aiming for a Belfast run of 90 mins. Still hasn't happened. Both examples were aims prior to the massive investment that came CIEs way in the late 90s and noughties.

    It hasn't happened and won't happen because CIE are a semi state that are ingrained with a culture of failure, make do, indecisivness, weak management and are prone to accepting political interference due to their massive financial losses over the years. I know and the Government knows that the entire group should be consigned to the bin as it has failed. But the Government have not got the bottle to face down the union culture that has developed within the company and its this culture that maintains its existance. Aer Lingus is a similar example, but went more quietly as it lacks the power to grind the country to a halt. So CIE are the worst semi state imaginable and will never achieve anything of note.

    Motorways will finish them off completely in rail terms on inter city routes, but until a Government is brave enough to radially overhaul the entire ground that CIE stands on, the pitiful charade will continue.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,977 ✭✭✭ Chris_5339762


    I've been on Dublin - Galway trains that have topped out at 157kmh on my GPS between Dublin and Portarlington. Then it gets much slower.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,091 ✭✭✭ marmurr1916


    A more realistic top speed to aim for would be 160km/h, with an average speed of 120km/h, for a total journey time of about 2h15m.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,278 ✭✭✭ dowlingm


    There is no money for 200km/h and won't be for years. Apart from the Mk4 trailers there is nothing on the rails designed for it including the 22s that I know of. However, substantial gains can be made if we make incremental improvements on the mainline.
    1. Upgrade or repair existing 160km/h infrastructure and keep it that way.
    2. Maintain the programme of modernising signalling etc. to squeeze the most out of that track.
    3. Limerick Junction East Platform, ideally with a Waterford line element to minimise the number of east-west line crossings not intended to be through services.
    4. With the uplift in Ballina freight and the building of Portlaoise depot there are a lot of paths required around Cherryville Junction. Might need to be a bit of extra rail built from Kildare to Portarlington, either sidings or an extra curve at Cherryville to allow an Belview train to head for Portarlington without reversing perhaps.
    5. Abandon Ballybrophy. The choices are either reverse the curve towards Portlaoise or sever the branch further back. That will chop several minutes out of former stopping runs.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,316 KC61


    There are a few points to take into account when looking at train timetables. It is not quite as clear as you think.

    First of all between Heuston and Sallins there is a 6 minute "buffer" in both directions to allow for temporary speed restrictions associated with the Kildare Route Project. This should be eliminated by early 2011 when the two "down" lines (outbound from Dublin) are finally relaid. Therefore every train in and out of Heuston has its journey time extended by 6 minutes.

    Second, any transport timetable will have recovery time built into it (be it bus, rail or air), and in the case of Irish Rail it is usually in the final section of the journey. Therefore on Dublin/Cork it is included between Mallow and Cork and between Cork and Dublin it is between the final stop and Heuston. So southbound between Mallow and Cork is always timetabled slower than the reverse, to allow for any unexpected delays en route.

    Now the real question is how much. Typically in years gone by it would be roughly 5-6 minutes, which to my mind is reasonable allowing for delayed connections etc. However in recent years it has extended to up to 12 minutes (1700 Heuston/Cork) which is frankly a joke as it means that the timetable is being artificially adjusted to maintain targets.

    Allowing for these two elements - what needs to be done. There has to be fair been substantial progress with the temporary 30mph restriction at Portarlington lifted to 80mph, and Ballybrophy has now been relaid and should be passed at line speed in the not too distant future (currently 70mph). Also the line speed between Newbridge and Portlaoise has been restored.

    Also Cherryville to Heuston has been resignalled allowing for better spacing between services and minimising delays.

    However there are still issues:

    Limerick Junction is a serious problem with a 25mph restriction but again this should be addressed later this year. The automatic half barrier level crossings at Emly and Grange (either side of Limerick Junction) both have 80mph restrictions as do Charleville and Mallow stations.

    The entire line does need upgrading - some has been completed but there is still a long way to go.

    There are only 6 trains calling at Ballybrophy each day - hardly that big an issue. The most that saves is 3 minutes.

    Frankly the freight is not impacting on the services as there are only normally 3 three passenger services per hour between Portarlington and Kildare - that is a red herring. There is plenty of scope through active use of loops to allow the freight operate around the passenger services without impacting on them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,278 ✭✭✭ dowlingm


    KC61 wrote: »
    Ballybrophy has now been relaid and should be passed at line speed in the not too distant future (currently 70mph).
    Line speed = 100mph? Can a 201+8xMk4 really get from 100mph to 0 to 100mph in three minutes net time lost? The fuel burn to do so must be brutal.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,316 KC61


    dowlingm wrote: »
    Line speed = 100mph? Can a 201+8xMk4 really get from 100mph to 0 to 100mph in three minutes net time lost? The fuel burn to do so must be brutal.

    Each station stop costs 3 minutes to a schedule.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,781 ✭✭✭ Carawaystick


    KC61 wrote: »
    Now the real question is how much. Typically in years gone by it would be roughly 5-6 minutes, which to my mind is reasonable allowing for delayed connections etc. However in recent years it has extended to up to 12 minutes (1700 Heuston/Cork) which is frankly a joke as it means that the timetable is being artificially adjusted to maintain targets.

    Six minute delays would get you a full refund on the AVE in Spain.... reasonable is relative.

    If you check the times of trains from Mallow to Cork, you'll see commuter services take much less than intercity ones. Surely that is a joke.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,316 KC61


    Six minute delays would get you a full refund on the AVE in Spain.... reasonable is relative.

    If you check the times of trains from Mallow to Cork, you'll see commuter services take much less than intercity ones. Surely that is a joke.

    Well I would think the AVE also has recovery time built into the schedule - I would be very surprised if it did not - it is standard practice.

    Again the Intercity time from Mallow to Cork has the recovery time for the entire Dublin/Cork trip built into the last section - i.e. Mallow to Cork. The local trains are just timed for that section. Hence the disparity.

    The problem is that IE have increased the recovery time to excessive levels.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,407 ✭✭✭✭ Stark


    DWCommuter wrote: »
    With all due respect, you can break down the numbers until you are blue in the face. In the early to mid 70s CIE were aiming for a Cork run of 2.5 hours. Still hasn't happened.

    I remember being able to get trains from Dublin to Cork in 2.5 hours. That was in the early part of last decade. Unfortunately the line has been deteriorating since then and instead of repairing the track, they've simply been slapping on speed limits. God knows how far more it will deteriorate over the coming years.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,781 ✭✭✭ Carawaystick


    KC61 wrote: »
    Well I would think the AVE also has recovery time built into the schedule - I would be very surprised if it did not - it is standard practice.
    As far as I understand it, the ave guarantee is from station to station, not from origin to destination.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,361 mgmt


    The cork-dublin train took 7hrs 35minutes in 1866. 5hrs in 1884. At least we've improved since then.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,905 ✭✭✭ Aard


    There's looking on the bright side, and then there's total denial! :pac:


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,316 KC61


    As far as I understand it, the ave guarantee is from station to station, not from origin to destination.

    Fair enough, but I imagine (and I can say this with some certainty having used the service several times) that there is recovery time built into the timetable on each section.

    It doesn't have to be that much, but any operator, be it air, rail or bus will have a little flexibility built into a schedule.

    The issue with IE is that they put in too much.


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