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Vardakar plans to 'redevelop' the Belfast line

  • 19-01-2014 11:31pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    The Irish times article mentions casually that the minister has something up his sleeve for the Dublin-Belfast rail line. I'm pondering what it could be in these times of low capital expenditure. The need is undeniable, the service now takes a whopping 2 hours and 15 minutes and is subject to frequent delays.

    Considering that most of the delays seem to be on the sections shared with DART and the line north of the border, what possible improvements could be made without seriously splashing the cash?

    Any ideas??

    http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/no-direct-link-between-increase-in-road-deaths-and-decrease-in-traffic-corps-says-varadkar-29922446.html


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Comments

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


    It needs some improvement anyway.

    One simple thing they could do is coordinate the Enterprise, Commuter and DART timetables properly - there are only 4 DARTs an hour north of Connolly, and it only takes 24 minutes for a DART to go from Connolly to Malahide - surely there should be plenty of time for coordinating fast and slow trains without getting in each others way?

    On the infrastructure side: speed increases to 100 mph throughout, from mostly 90mph, a terminus platform at Malahide, and removing the speed restrictions at station approaches to facilitate non-stop "Business Express" services to get to Dublin and Belfast before 9am in under 2 hours.

    At the moment, the Dublin-Belfast line is also the intercity line best suited to electrification - it has frequent commuter services over most of its length, and the rolling stock is due for refurbishment/replacement at the same time, so an ideal time to upgrade to electric traction.

    Upgrades would be in line for EU 10T money, but to be effective, any upgrade work would have to be coordinated with Northern Ireland doing the work on their end.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    I think cooperation with NIR could be difficult. Afterall in Dublin we have three state owned public transport companies that as of yet refuse to operate an integrated zone based fare system.

    If we got 130km/h running between Balbriggan and Dundalk, cut out the Drogheda stop on some services, we'd probably have a 1 hour 50 minute journey end to end, just like in the old days. But I expect that would incur significant costs.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 299 ✭✭ Copyerselveson


    I attended a meeting recently with Mal McGreevy of NI Railways where he stated his intention was to get the line at his end at least engineered to 125 mph working.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    Very ambitious indeed, surely that would require an upgrade to continuous welded rail and re-alignment of some sections, meaning massive costs? The immediate benefits would also be limited by the De Deitrich rolling stock, which can only do 145kmh. The end goal afaik is is to electrify the line and have 200kmh running, so such a step will be required anyway. Alas we are many years off a 60 minute journey time, or even a 90 minute journey time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,330 ✭✭✭ AngryLips


    Maybe an hourly service and get rid of the Drogheda commuter stop? Would there be demand for such a frequency seeing as the Cork service manages it?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    Slight timetable improvements are about the only improvement that can be made on a modest budget as far as I can see, along with the phased lifting of speed restrictions. Maybe there is some way that faster mark IV rolling stock could be used for Belfast services?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,468 ✭✭✭✭ Jamie2k9


    cgcsb wrote: »
    Slight timetable improvements are about the only improvement that can be made on a modest budget as far as I can see, along with the phased lifting of speed restrictions. Maybe there is some way that faster mark IV rolling stock could be used for Belfast services?

    Can't go faster, if North of the border was all 80 or 90 running it would be a major help, that's were the real problems is. Can't see much being required down South once past the DART 100mph running shouldn't require much at all.
    Maybe an hourly service and get rid of the Drogheda commuter stop? Would there be demand for such a frequency seeing as the Cork service manages it?

    Would say hourly would be used well if quick or at least hourly peak and two hourly off peak. Cork supports hourly only because its 3 routes into one.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,803 ✭✭✭✭ LXFlyer


    Well one of the first things they could do is override the objections of Malahide residents and build a turnback siding north of Malahide Station.

    The lack of such a siding imposes huge restrictions on operations at Malahide.

    Add to that, a loop on the up side at Clongriffin so that there are passing loops on both sides.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,188 ✭✭✭ lucernarian


    AngryLips wrote: »
    Maybe an hourly service and get rid of the Drogheda commuter stop? Would there be demand for such a frequency seeing as the Cork service manages it?
    I'm blatantly biased here but... Visibility issues concerning the platforms in Drogheda and the viaduct itself immediately afterwards result in limiting the speed to 30kph anyway and as low as 20kph I think while passing the platform nearest the main station building (Platform 1 IIRC). Skipping Drogheda won't save as much time as it would on any other station on the Enterprise route. Also it's quite a large destination in itself and currently there's no direct link from there to Belfast on any of the numerous bus services that travel between Dublin and Belfast on that corridor.

    Unless anyone wants to rebuild the Boyne Viaduct and carry out station remodelling in Drogheda, I don't see where significant time savings would come from by not stopping there.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,330 ✭✭✭ AngryLips


    I meant that the Drogheda stop is resulting in the Enterprise being used as a Dublin commuter service more than it is an intercity service ...not so much that it will save time.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,188 ✭✭✭ lucernarian


    AngryLips wrote: »
    I meant that the Drogheda stop is resulting in the Enterprise being used as a Dublin commuter service more than it is an intercity service ...not so much that it will save time.
    I think if there are lots of people using the train to get to Drogheda, it's probably something IR should respond to by providing more express trains... Anyway peak time services don't stop there and it's a rare occasion when there are no seats on the Enterprise currently.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,803 ✭✭✭✭ LXFlyer


    AngryLips wrote: »
    I meant that the Drogheda stop is resulting in the Enterprise being used as a Dublin commuter service more than it is an intercity service ...not so much that it will save time.

    It's hardly a huge commuter stop as the first service doesn't arrive into Dublin until after 9am.

    And what about people who use the Enterprise for travelling north from Drogheda?

    I don't think that there is that big an issue with having 4 stops - Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry and Portadown.

    The Drogheda stop probably could be removed from the 1650 northbound service, reinstating that as an express, but I'd be loath to remove it from other trains.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,844 Banjoxed


    I think if there are lots of people using the train to get to Drogheda, it's probably something IR should respond to by providing more express trains... Anyway peak time services don't stop there and it's a rare occasion when there are no seats on the Enterprise currently.

    If that's the case, I'll go further and make the heretical suggestion that a rail shuttle from Navan should meet the Enterprises.


  • Registered Users Posts: 479 ✭✭ MoeJay


    The 1650 northbound Enterprise doesn't stop at Drogheda as it is...


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,803 ✭✭✭✭ LXFlyer


    Of course - I meant take out the Dundalk stop.

    I would leave the rest as is.


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


    I don't think that Drogheda should be dropped from the Enterprise - it's a big enough place far enough from Dublin that it justifies an intercity stop.

    If anything, new morning and evening non-stop expresses should be added.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    Irish rail's 2030 vision document notes that while Dublin-Cork is a high performing line, with a high % of passengers travelling on business, the Belfast line performs poorly relative to the population catchment and attract few business journeys. An obvious way to improve this is by ensuring a passenger can reach Dublin by about 8.30, which is currently not doable with the Enterprise service.


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


    cgcsb wrote: »
    An obvious way to improve this is by ensuring a passenger can reach Dublin by about 8.30, which is currently not doable with the Enterprise service.

    Same with getting to Cork, first arrival is 9:30


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    Same with getting to Cork, first arrival is 9:30

    but Cork passengers can reach Dublin by 8:30 which I'd say is the more crucial journey, same for Dublin-Galway


  • Registered Users Posts: 72 ✭✭ roddney


    My reading between the lines on this.

    Belfast has the oldest trains. There is a surplus of new rolling stock (22000 class). Investment doesn't necessarily mean into the physical line.

    Re-jig service level a little (times and frequency). Roll out newish stock, maybe in new special livery. Lots of pomp and press coming up to election about investment and jobs.

    Very little actually spent as trains already there.

    Voila !!!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    Is there excess rolling stock? The enterprise would benefit from rolling stock capable of 160km/h and a separate power car. If that can restore a journey time of 1 hour 45 mins and an hourly frequency that'd be worth it, I think. The worst sections of track are under NIRs jurisdiction, so there's little vardakar can do in that respect


  • Registered Users Posts: 72 ✭✭ roddney


    cgcsb wrote: »
    Is there excess rolling stock? The enterprise would benefit from rolling stock capable of 160km/h and a separate power car. If that can restore a journey time of 1 hour 45 mins and an hourly frequency that'd be worth it, I think. The worst sections of track are under NIRs jurisdiction, so there's little vardakar can do in that respect

    22000 DMU's. There was excess stock when they arrived. Lots of reports in media of wasteful spend at the time. You can see them on the Dundalk run (rather than using the 29000 commuter DMU's). In recent IE's cost savings they have re-configured certain 6 car sets to 3 cars and 3 car sets to 4 cars.

    There is no mention what so ever in article, of improving of journey times or speed. I think that is wishful thinking.

    A new shiny paint job to the 22000 DMU's, some extra services (particularly to get in before 9) is what my money is on. A rebranding exercise.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,468 ✭✭✭✭ Jamie2k9


    There is not extra 22's available for Belfast services, they could however make a Mark 4 set available however all IE's rolling stock is capable of 90-100mph which not one section of the Belfast line has. That's the problem.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,330 ✭✭✭ AngryLips


    Maybe our Leo means he'll press his NI counterparts to remove the unofficial Lisburn stop.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,803 ✭✭✭✭ LXFlyer


    I suspect that it ties in with what Danny Kennedy said on BBC NI news today:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-25916120
    In the coming weeks, he hopes to secure up to £12m for refurbishment on the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise service.

    The De Dietrich stock needs a mid-life refurbishment and finally it seems that the two governments are recognising that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,468 ✭✭✭✭ Jamie2k9


    AngryLips wrote: »
    Maybe our Leo means he'll press his NI counterparts to remove the unofficial Lisburn stop.

    No point, it would have zero affect on the timetable, the reason behind it from what I can see was to stop there instead of having a stop/start situation into Belfast.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,194 ✭✭✭ cgcsb


    What can one get for £12 million?? a small section of track renewal? a new power car for enterprise train sets?


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,803 ✭✭✭✭ LXFlyer


    As I posted above, it's for the rolling stock refurbishment.


  • Registered Users Posts: 80 ✭✭ daveboy01


    There are plans in place for a new transport hub in Belfast - meaning the Enterprise would stop in Great Victoria St Station (west of the city centre) as opposed to slowly meandering to Central Station (east of the city centre) as it does presently. They estimate construction will start in 2015, completion 2020.

    The plan is for an additional 2 rail platforms at GVS station. This would probably shave about 10 mins off the Dublin - Belfast travel time and drop passengers right in the city centre.

    http://www.futurebelfast.com/belfast-transport-hub.html

    http://www.translink.co.uk/Documents/Corporate/publications/21999%20Translink%20HUB%20METALLIC%20GREY%20-%20FINAL%2029.07.13.pdf


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,968 ✭✭✭ aindriu80


    £12 million pounds ? The line could do with more than that. Is it not continuously welded track ? All intercity trains should be running on that at least.


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