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Dodging the canals when we built Rail Infrastructure - WHY?

  • 16-09-2018 8:39pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 5,095 ✭✭✭ veryangryman


    Off the top of my head and looking at a map,

    The Western railway line (Westport/Galway to Heuston)
    The Sligo Line
    The Dart
    The Port Tunnel (the tunnel part anyway)

    All of these dodge crossing the canals like the plague. Special mention for each East-West national railway line listed above dodging the Liffey. Dart couldn't avoid it.

    Now of course bridges/tunnels are expensive, likely moreso for a railway line, but when we take into account that commuter towns, towns in general grew from being on the lines, it feels pennywise, pound foolish for the way that they were built.

    There's history on this that i'm sure i've not gotten taught, but was it purely finance that dictated why the railway planners showed little to no imagination for the lines.

    Even the port tunnel, why is that bridging the canal? Why not tunnel there too?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,063 ✭✭✭ JohnC.


    Do you mean the Tolka for the Port Tunnel?


  • Registered Users Posts: 961 ✭✭✭ gingernut79


    Off the top of my head and looking at a map,

    The Western railway line (Westport/Galway to Heuston)
    The Sligo Line
    The Dart
    The Port Tunnel (the tunnel part anyway)

    All of these dodge crossing the canals like the plague. Special mention for each East-West national railway line listed above dodging the Liffey. Dart couldn't avoid it.

    Now of course bridges/tunnels are expensive, likely moreso for a railway line, but when we take into account that commuter towns, towns in general grew from being on the lines, it feels pennywise, pound foolish for the way that they were built.

    There's history on this that i'm sure i've not gotten taught, but was it purely finance that dictated why the railway planners showed little to no imagination for the lines.

    Even the port tunnel, why is that bridging the canal? Why not tunnel there too?

    A wealthy estate owner, whose name escapes me, near Maynooth invested in the canal and insisted it ran much closer to his estate than the original plans at significant cost. I think this is why we have the deep sinking and possibly the Aqueduct aswell. So no, not all routing was geographical.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    Off the top of my head and looking at a map,

    The Western railway line (Westport/Galway to Heuston)
    The Sligo Line
    The Dart
    The Port Tunnel (the tunnel part anyway)

    All of these dodge crossing the canals like the plague. Special mention for each East-West national railway line listed above dodging the Liffey. Dart couldn't avoid it.

    Now of course bridges/tunnels are expensive, likely moreso for a railway line, but when we take into account that commuter towns, towns in general grew from being on the lines, it feels pennywise, pound foolish for the way that they were built.

    There's history on this that i'm sure i've not gotten taught, but was it purely finance that dictated why the railway planners showed little to no imagination for the lines.

    Even the port tunnel, why is that bridging the canal? Why not tunnel there too?

    We've two rail line running beside the canal which disagree with this theory.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 20,995 Mod ✭✭✭✭ bk


    Interesting question. I'm no historian, but remember that most of the rail network we have today was built in the 1800's by private companies.

    They were likely looking to keep costs down and bridges are expensive as you say. Also remembers that they were competing with the canals which were built and operated by other companies. Until rail came along, the canals were how a great deal of freight, goods and people were transported. Rail was a direct competitor to this and looked to steal this business, so I'm sure the canal operators weren't enthusiastic about allowing the rail tracks to cross their property.


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,057 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011


    The MGWR bought the Royal Canal which is why the line runs adjacent to it


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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,688 ✭✭✭✭ Zebra3


    A wealthy estate owner, whose name escapes me, near Maynooth invested in the canal and insisted it ran much closer to his estate than the original plans at significant cost. I think this is why we have the deep sinking and possibly the Aqueduct aswell. So no, not all routing was geographical.

    Yep, the owner of Carton House back in the day


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,323 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    Off the top of my head and looking at a map,

    The Western railway line (Westport/Galway to Heuston)
    The Sligo Line
    The Dart
    The Port Tunnel (the tunnel part anyway)

    All of these dodge crossing the canals like the plague. Special mention for each East-West national railway line listed above dodging the Liffey. Dart couldn't avoid it.
    The Dart crosses both the Royal Canal (at Ossory Road) and the Grand Canal (at Grand Canal Harbour, which even has a Dart station named after it).

    As has already been pointed out, the MGWR bought the Royal Canal and used its wayleaves to construct its main line. The railway and canal run parallel to one another for long periods. This didn't just give the railway company a handy wayleave; it gave them a handy wayleave which was already on extremely level ground, which is what you want for a railway.

    And therein lies a clue to a larger answer; canals and railways both want to be as level as possible, and therefore they both want to follow contours, not to cross them. Canals and railways running between the same places are far more likely to parallel one another than to intersect with one another, because they are following the same contours.

    As for the main railway lines, the fact that they don't cross the Liffey is a by-product of the fact that they all built termini on the edge of what was then the built-up area of the city. Driving railway lines into and through the city would have been enormously expensive. In fact the Liffey wasn't crossed in Dublin until the construction of the Liffey Railway Bridge at Islandbridge in 1877, and it wasn't crossed in the city centre until the construction of the loop line in 1891, which linked Amiens St station (built in 1844) with Westland Row (built in 1834).


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


    The Newry canal is only crossed twice by the railway, mainly due to the winding valley the canal goes through and the straighter and higher route the train takes


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,985 ✭✭✭✭ _Brian


    Read the title as dogging, not as expected.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,612 ✭✭✭ oceanman


    _Brian wrote: »
    Read the title as dogging, not as expected.

    SPECKSAVERS!:D


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  • Registered Users Posts: 262 ✭✭ guylikeme


    Thanks lads some great information.


  • Registered Users Posts: 262 ✭✭ guylikeme


    Thanks lads some great information.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,373 ✭✭✭ Charles Babbage


    The Newry canal is only crossed twice by the railway, mainly due to the winding valley the canal goes through and the straighter and higher route the train takes


    It is crossed three times by the Dublin Belfast line (has to be an odd number) and of course was also crossed by the Warrenpoint line on a swivel bridge outside the modern Buttercrane Cenre.


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


    It is crossed three times by the Dublin Belfast line (has to be an odd number) and of course was also crossed by the Warrenpoint line on a swivel bridge outside the modern Buttercrane Cenre.

    The canal finishes in the Bann south of Portadown?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,373 ✭✭✭ Charles Babbage


    The canal finishes in the Bann south of Portadown?


    That is indeed a relevant point.

    My mistake, you are correct.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭ 4ensic15


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    The Dart crosses both the Royal Canal (at Ossory Road) and the Grand Canal (at Grand Canal Harbour, which even has a Dart station named after it).

    As has already been pointed out, the MGWR bought the Royal Canal and used its wayleaves to construct its main line. The railway and canal run parallel to one another for long periods. This didn't just give the railway company a handy wayleave; it gave them a handy wayleave which was already on extremely level ground, which is what you want for a railway.

    And therein lies a clue to a larger answer; canals and railways both want to be as level as possible, and therefore they both want to follow contours, not to cross them. Canals and railways running between the same places are far more likely to parallel one another than to intersect with one another, because they are following the same contours.

    As for the main railway lines, the fact that they don't cross the Liffey is a by-product of the fact that they all built termini on the edge of what was then the built-up area of the city. Driving railway lines into and through the city would have been enormously expensive. In fact the Liffey wasn't crossed in Dublin until the construction of the Liffey Railway Bridge at Islandbridge in 1877, and it wasn't crossed in the city centre until the construction of the loop line in 1891, which linked Amiens St station (built in 1844) with Westland Row (built in 1834).
    That loop line is a disgrace, blocking the view of the Custom House from upriver.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,095 ✭✭✭ veryangryman


    4ensic15 wrote: »
    That loop line is a disgrace, blocking the view of the Custom House from upriver.

    "Blocking the view" and "a disgrace" are the types of waffle that blocks the building of high rise that could solve the housing crisis.

    I would gladly knock the customs house if it saved just 1 person. I will always remember it as the former office of phil GS hogan.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,639 ✭✭✭ PhoenixParker


    Maynooth line crosses the royal canal between broombridge and drumcondra.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,670 ✭✭✭ blackwhite


    L1011 wrote: »
    The MGWR bought the Royal Canal which is why the line runs adjacent to it

    I'm fairly sure I remember reading somewhere that their original plan was to drain the canal and build a trackbed in it's place; but eventually deduced it was cheaper to build the railway alongside it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,670 ✭✭✭ blackwhite


    Maynooth line crosses the royal canal between broombridge and drumcondra.

    And recrosses it again just before Connolly at the junction with the northern line.


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  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,057 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011


    blackwhite wrote: »
    I'm fairly sure I remember reading somewhere that their original plan was to drain the canal and build a trackbed in it's place; but eventually deduced it was cheaper to build the railway alongside it.

    Correct, suspect widening it to two track width would have cost too much. The line was two track to Mullingar (and then Athlone) at least I think


  • Registered Users Posts: 918 ✭✭✭ riddlinrussell


    I believe the railway crosses the grand canal at Monasterevin and just before Sallins, at a bare minimum.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭ 4ensic15


    "Blocking the view" and "a disgrace" are the types of waffle that blocks the building of high rise that could solve the housing crisis.

    I would gladly knock the customs house if it saved just 1 person. I will always remember it as the former office of phil GS hogan.

    The loop line is not going to solve any housing crisis!


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