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Limerick - Nenagh - Ballybrophy railway

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  • 10-11-2019 9:39pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 312 ✭✭


    I've heard some people say that there's no demand for this railway because less than 100 people use it, but I disagree with this.
    I think the low usage is because the service is much worse than most other train services in the country.
    The journey time from Limerick to Ballybrophy via Nenagh is 2 hours and the frequency is 2 trains each way + 1 Nenagh to Limerick daily.(only 1 each way on Sundays)

    The 5 stations on this line serve a combined population of around 16,000, and connects this population to Limerick, Portlaoise and Dublin.
    I think this population is enough to expect that over 600 people would use it daily if this service was provided instead:
    8 trains daily from Dublin to Limerick and another 8 back, stopping at Portlaoise, Roscrea, Cloughjordan, Nenagh, Birdhill & Castleconnell.
    Journey time 2 hours 15 minutes.


    What do people think?


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    I've heard some people say that there's no demand for this railway because less than 100 people use it, but I disagree with this.
    I think the low usage is because the service is much worse than most other train services in the country.
    The journey time from Limerick to Ballybrophy via Nenagh is 2 hours and the frequency is 2 trains each way + 1 Nenagh to Limerick daily.(only 1 each way on Sundays)

    The 5 stations on this line serve a combined population of around 16,000, and connects this population to Limerick, Portlaoise and Dublin.
    I think this population is enough to expect that over 600 people would use it daily if this service was provided instead:
    8 trains daily from Dublin to Limerick and another 8 back, stopping at Portlaoise, Roscrea, Cloughjordan, Nenagh, Birdhill & Castleconnell.
    Journey time 2 hours 15 minutes.


    What do people think?

    8 services a day??????????????????

    2hrs 15mins would require some major investment in the line. You would need 90/100mph running speed for this target which is not going to happen. 3 hours is probably the best your going to get. I can't see anything better than 60mph been achieved.

    All we here of is demand to Limerick, what is the demand for Dublin like?

    Personally, I think the biggest fault on this line is the fact that it runs to Ballybrophy. I never understood the reasoning for this. It should of continued straight at Borris in Ossory and joined the Cork line further north to link with Portlaoise.

    If line speeds were improved I could see a case for one of the morning direct ex.Limerick trains been ran via Neagh and splitting one of the evening ex.Dublin for Neagh in Portlaoise with both skipping Ballybrophy if the direct curve could be reinstated.

    The fact the 2800 is based in Limerick doesn't help matters either. If they could base it in Portlaoise it could allow for a better service in my opinion. A rotation such as, Portlaoise Train Care - Ballybrophy - Limerick - Ballybrophy - Limerick - Ballybrophy - Portlaoise Train Care. This would actually reduce the number of movements the 2800s make on the branch from 6 to 5 a day which will reduce costs. The intercity service, mentioned above would cover the peak travel in the opposite direction.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,363 ✭✭✭✭Del.Monte


    There was never a direct curve at Ballybrophy in either direction. A direct curve should have been built decades ago - facing the Dublin direction. Not going to happen though.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,064 ✭✭✭Rulmeq


    Del.Monte wrote: »
    There was never a direct curve at Ballybrophy in either direction. A direct curve should have been built decades ago - facing the Dublin direction. Not going to happen though.


    Are you sure? I vaguely remember reading about them closing the Dublin facing one (it was probably on here years ago). If you look on google maps there appears to be some sort of a curved line heading that way: https://www.google.ie/maps/@52.9041833,-7.5970664,431m/data=!3m1!1e3


    Mind you looking at it now, it doesn't really look like it, looks more like a property dividing line, or a drain (seems to continue south of the rail line)


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    Del.Monte wrote: »
    There was never a direct curve at Ballybrophy in either direction. A direct curve should have been built decades ago - facing the Dublin direction. Not going to happen though.

    I think there was. I don't think it was used very often but it was there.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,064 ✭✭✭Rulmeq


    IE 222 wrote: »
    I think there was. I don't think it was used very often but it was there.


    Just had a look on this, and it would appear it existed (not sure how accurate this map is though, it seems to be crowd sourced): http://railmaponline.com/UKIEMap.php (you have to zoom in yourself, I can't figure out how to link the zoomed map)


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  • Posts: 5,121 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]


    Rulmeq wrote: »
    Just had a look on this, and it would appear it existed (not sure how accurate this map is though, it seems to be crowd sourced): http://railmaponline.com/UKIEMap.php (you have to zoom in yourself, I can't figure out how to link the zoomed map)
    That's just someone remotely assuming there would have been one there, following the line of a drain that was there before the railway.

    The OSI maps from 100 years ago don't show it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,363 ✭✭✭✭Del.Monte


    Rulmeq wrote: »
    Are you sure? I vaguely remember reading about them closing the Dublin facing one (it was probably on here years ago). If you look on google maps there appears to be some sort of a curved line heading that way: https://www.google.ie/maps/@52.9041833,-7.5970664,431m/data=!3m1!1e3


    Mind you looking at it now, it doesn't really look like it, looks more like a property dividing line, or a drain (seems to continue south of the rail line)


    Quite sure - it's not a matter for debate. There was never a north facing direct curve. Years ago trains coming from the Nenagh branch into Ballybrophy could run via crossovers onto any of the through platforms. There was never a direct curve in either direction.


  • Registered Users Posts: 312 ✭✭ohographite


    I do know that speeds of 70mph were achievable on most of the line in the past, but now the track is of a very low standard, so if better track is laid down then journey times can improve again.
    A direct curve at Ballybrophy would remove the need to reverse, which would further reduce journey times.
    Introducing a passing loop in Nenagh would boost capacity and make it possible to run 8 trains daily in both directions.

    I don't expect any of these things will ever be done, but I really hope they are done sooner rather than later.


  • Registered Users Posts: 25 thewexman93


    Really should be quite straightforward to introduce a direct curve to the nenagh line, with more direct limerick services heading on this line rather than via limerick junction. Direct non stop from Heuston to portloaise, and then onto the nenagh curve. or better still as one poster already suggested, a more direct track line from roscrea to just below portlaoise, but no doubt thats fairly unlikely.

    Only irish rail could think its a good idea to head from dublin to limerick via tipperary town (limerick junction) it was a foolish way to develop the dublin to limerick route.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,346 ✭✭✭easypazz


    This was mentioned on another thread but a new alignment from Lisnagry to Parkway would transform this line.

    Direct route from Ennis to Dublin with a stop at Parkway for Dublin, no need for everybody to go to city centre for every Dublin train.

    Commuter train from Ennis serving UL and industrial estates around it, stops Longpavement, Sixmilebridge etc.

    Commuter train from Limerick Colbert / Raheen etc. serving UL area as well.

    The sad thing is the whole UL / parkway / Annacotty area has been redeveloped over the last 40 years and this alignment could have been reserved.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,682 ✭✭✭✭Jamie2k9


    There is no justification for a curve, your saving about 5 minutes. You could achieve this far cheaper within existing infrastructure.

    If you were to build a curve to connect Waterford to Cork line it would deliver savings of 30 minutes for freight services.

    The above idea is crazy and even if money wasn't an issue there would never be such demand. Double tracking the rest of Limerick to Limerick J is a far better for Limerick customers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    Jamie2k9 wrote: »
    There is no justification for a curve, your saving about 5 minutes. You could achieve this far cheaper within existing infrastructure.

    If you were to build a curve to connect Waterford to Cork line it would deliver savings of 30 minutes for freight services.

    The above idea is crazy and even if money wasn't an issue there would never be such demand. Double tracking the rest of Limerick to Limerick J is a far better for Limerick customers.

    It wouldn't be a major expense to install a curve. It's only a matter of redesigning the current connection onto the main line which involves using the bay, no additional points are needed maybe 1 or 2 panels to smooth the curve.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    Del.Monte wrote: »
    Quite sure - it's not a matter for debate. There was never a north facing direct curve. Years ago trains coming from the Nenagh branch into Ballybrophy could run via crossovers onto any of the through platforms. There was never a direct curve in either direction.

    Your right, the previous one turned off the main line towards Roscrea but then turned towards the bay in order to miss the bay loop. I always thought it continued towards Roscrea.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,346 ✭✭✭easypazz


    Jamie2k9 wrote: »

    The above idea is crazy and even if money wasn't an issue there would never be such demand. Double tracking the rest of Limerick to Limerick J is a far better for Limerick customers.

    Of course there is demand. If properly designed it would be a commuter railway connecting a lot of points around Limerick, driving further demand.

    All the development in the last 40 years would have had to have been geared around this though, high density development iand an alignment left for tracks and stations.

    Too late now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    What sort of numbers did the morning IC from Limerick to Dublin attract. I'm guessing it was low as they pulled after a year or so.

    There is absolutely no justification for 8 services a day each way. That's more than the Waterford line. At a push 4 a day, 3 local (1= morning, afternoon and evening) and running 1 of the direct Limerick Intercity services via Neagh each way.


  • Registered Users Posts: 312 ✭✭ohographite


    IE 222 wrote: »
    What sort of numbers did the morning IC from Limerick to Dublin attract. I'm guessing it was low as they pulled after a year or so.

    There is absolutely no justification for 8 services a day each way. That's more than the Waterford line. At a push 4 a day, 3 local (1= morning, afternoon and evening) and running 1 of the direct Limerick Intercity services via Neagh each way.

    I would hope the frequency on both Dublin - Waterford and Limerick - Ballybrophy is increased.

    I think that 8 trains daily would be important in keeping the passenger numbers healthy so the railway will not be continuously threatened with closure like it is now.
    It may not single - handedly double the patronage that would result from 4 trains daily, but my guess is that it would still attract hundreds more passengers almost every day.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    I would hope the frequency on both Dublin - Waterford and Limerick - Ballybrophy is increased.

    I think that 8 trains daily would be important in keeping the passenger numbers healthy so the railway will not be continuously threatened with closure like it is now.
    It may not single - handedly double the patronage that would result from 4 trains daily, but my guess is that it would still attract hundreds more passengers almost every day.

    It's one way of closing the line sooner. Its needs to be operationally viable and cost effective for it to survive.

    Giving the current timeframe of 2hrs to complete the route you'd need to allocate another 2 sets to run 8 services, along with infrastructure improvements.

    Personally I think the best way of improving frequency and scheduling cheaply is by using Portlaoise based ICR and drivers instead of Limerick.

    Start from Portlaoise at 6:10 for 8:30 Limerick arrival. Use the set to do an afternoon Limerick - Ballybrophy return, connect with 14:00 ex Dub and get the 13:25 ex Cork to stop in Ballybrophy. The set can do a 17:30 Limerick - Neagh to return in time for the final Limerick - Portlaise at 19:50.

    Re-route the 5:30 ex Limerick via Neagh and split the 17:25 ex Dublin in Portlaoise for a Neagh service as well. The intercity services can be looped in Roscrea in the morning and Birdhill in the evening but not sure if the loop platforms are in service.


  • Registered Users Posts: 312 ✭✭ohographite


    IE 222 wrote: »
    It's one way of closing the line sooner. Its needs to be operationally viable and cost effective for it to survive.

    Giving the current timeframe of 2hrs to complete the route you'd need to allocate another 2 sets to run 8 services, along with infrastructure improvements.

    Personally I think the best way of improving frequency and scheduling cheaply is by using Portlaoise based ICR and drivers instead of Limerick.

    Start from Portlaoise at 6:10 for 8:30 Limerick arrival. Use the set to do an afternoon Limerick - Ballybrophy return, connect with 14:00 ex Dub and get the 13:25 ex Cork to stop in Ballybrophy. The set can do a 17:30 Limerick - Neagh to return in time for the final Limerick - Portlaise at 19:50.

    Re-route the 5:30 ex Limerick via Neagh and split the 17:25 ex Dublin in Portlaoise for a Neagh service as well. The intercity services can be looped in Roscrea in the morning and Birdhill in the evening but not sure if the loop platforms are in service.

    I think it's okay to make this railway a bit more expensive to maintain if it means getting passenger numbers above 600 per day.
    It will mean Irish rail will need more money, but it would make this line useful for so many more people.
    I was looking at the Heavy Rail Census 2018 and discovered that Thomastown had 128 journeys made on census day towards or from Dublin(this is 9 per train).
    Nenagh is a similar distance from Dublin, so probably generates similar demand, but it has 4 times the population of Thomastown.
    If Nenagh was served by a train service as fast and as frequent as the one going through Thomastown, then I'd say that its station would be almost 4 times busier than Thomastown's(so almost 500 journeys daily).
    I've looked at the usage of stations similar distances from Dublin (with similar road competition) to the stations on this line, and that's how I estimated the potential usage of 600 passengers a day if the service improves enough.


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 68,019 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011


    Some of the Thomastown boardings are Thomastown-KK commuter traffic. That said, it could just be the barwoman who was telling me about taking the train in to work with nobody else doing it! Think she said she got a lift back as the last train would be long gone by the end of the day in a pub.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,682 ✭✭✭✭Jamie2k9


    Thomastown had 60 passengers to Dublin and 6 to Waterford on Census Day 2018. There is a few annual ticket holders who use this station and about 80% is to/from Kilkenny. They used to attract school children but think that has reduced in recent years. In contract Kilkenny had 109 passengers southbound so many alight at Thomastown.

    2012 - 36
    2013 - 53
    2014 - 39
    2015 - 39
    2016 - 52
    2017 - 53
    2018 - 66


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    I think it's okay to make this railway a bit more expensive to maintain if it means getting passenger numbers above 600 per day.
    It will mean Irish rail will need more money, but it would make this line useful for so many more people.
    I was looking at the Heavy Rail Census 2018 and discovered that Thomastown had 128 journeys made on census day towards or from Dublin(this is 9 per train).
    Nenagh is a similar distance from Dublin, so probably generates similar demand, but it has 4 times the population of Thomastown.
    If Nenagh was served by a train service as fast and as frequent as the one going through Thomastown, then I'd say that its station would be almost 4 times busier than Thomastown's(so almost 500 journeys daily).
    I've looked at the usage of stations similar distances from Dublin (with similar road competition) to the stations on this line, and that's how I estimated the potential usage of 600 passengers a day if the service improves enough.

    Thomastown alone offers more passengers than the whole Neagh line. It also benefits from been located on a main line serving 3 cities two of which it's only matter of minutes from.

    Your way to optimistic looking for a 10 fold increase. The line at best could deliver 250-300 passengers, all that's required is altered schedules and some line speed improvements for 50/60mph running.

    IE don't have nor will they invest large funds into this line over other projects. I've highlighted some very cheap improvements in my last post that could be made without needing to invest 10s of millions of euro.


  • Registered Users Posts: 312 ✭✭ohographite


    IE 222 wrote: »
    Thomastown alone offers more passengers than the whole Neagh line. It also benefits from been located on a main line serving 3 cities two of which it's only matter of minutes from.

    Your way to optimistic looking for a 10 fold increase. The line at best could deliver 250-300 passengers, all that's required is altered schedules and some line speed improvements for 50/60mph running.

    IE don't have nor will they invest large funds into this line over other projects. I've highlighted some very cheap improvements in my last post that could be made without needing to invest 10s of millions of euro.

    The improvements you've highlighted would be no doubt an improvement, and I'm certain they would substantially increase patronage.
    I also think further improvements make sense, too.

    If what I hope for is done, I do believe a 10 fold increase is likely.
    All the places with stations on this line would be well connected to Limerick and Dublin.

    I used Thomastown as an example because its service is so much better than that of the Nenagh line.
    Both the Nenagh and Waterford lines have similar road competition, so when I see that Thomastown station(serving 2000 people) is used by more people than the entire Nenagh line(serving 16000 people), I think that the big difference in usage(per capita) is mostly down to the big difference in service quality.

    I'd expect that upgrades to the Nenagh line, in the form of what I'm hoping for, are low on IE's priority list, and there are railway investments I consider more important.
    I just think that it's feasible to to make these investments AND the Nenagh line upgrades.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,684 ✭✭✭AngryLips


    Wasn't there an upgraded service on this line at some point in the celtic tiger years and there was marginal improvement in patronage?


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 17,661 Mod ✭✭✭✭Henry Ford III


    Ballybrophy - a godforsaken place in the middle of nowhere.

    I used to pass by it regularly. It made me cold


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    The improvements you've highlighted would be no doubt an improvement, and I'm certain they would substantially increase patronage.
    I also think further improvements make sense, too.

    If what I hope for is done, I do believe a 10 fold increase is likely.
    All the places with stations on this line would be well connected to Limerick and Dublin.

    I used Thomastown as an example because its service is so much better than that of the Nenagh line.
    Both the Nenagh and Waterford lines have similar road competition, so when I see that Thomastown station(serving 2000 people) is used by more people than the entire Nenagh line(serving 16000 people), I think that the big difference in usage(per capita) is mostly down to the big difference in service quality.

    I'd expect that upgrades to the Nenagh line, in the form of what I'm hoping for, are low on IE's priority list, and there are railway investments I consider more important.
    I just think that it's feasible to to make these investments AND the Nenagh line upgrades.

    Not doubting the numbers are there but there is only a limited number of people who would require this service. The M7 isn't exactly jammers nor is there a massive number of buses been used. Limerick city sees some expected congestion within the city but the roads leading off the motorways flow fairly well.

    Obviously line speed improvements and altered times would help but running more trains off peak is pointless as many of the targeted people won't be travelling at that time. Even with speed improvements it will still take a minimum of 1.5hrs to complete the route so it's never going to see a high frequency service.


  • Registered Users Posts: 19,397 ✭✭✭✭road_high


    I think it's okay to make this railway a bit more expensive to maintain if it means getting passenger numbers above 600 per day.
    It will mean Irish rail will need more money, but it would make this line useful for so many more people.
    I was looking at the Heavy Rail Census 2018 and discovered that Thomastown had 128 journeys made on census day towards or from Dublin(this is 9 per train).
    Nenagh is a similar distance from Dublin, so probably generates similar demand, but it has 4 times the population of Thomastown.
    If Nenagh was served by a train service as fast and as frequent as the one going through Thomastown, then I'd say that its station would be almost 4 times busier than Thomastown's(so almost 500 journeys daily).
    I've looked at the usage of stations similar distances from Dublin (with similar road competition) to the stations on this line, and that's how I estimated the potential usage of 600 passengers a day if the service improves enough.

    Thomastown is 127km from Heston, Nenagh is 156 km so no they ain't a similar distance from Dublin and likely have a completely different passenger dynamic. If anything Thomastown station location outside of the town robs it of more passengers that it has.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 426 ✭✭MrAbyss


    IE 222 wrote: »
    It wouldn't be a major expense to install a curve. It's only a matter of redesigning the current connection onto the main line which involves using the bay, no additional points are needed maybe 1 or 2 panels to smooth the curve.




    Precisely. Irish Rail already own most of the land needed. If Nenagh had direct services to Dublin watch the ridership on the branch explode as well are overall passenger growth in all directions.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,670 ✭✭✭IE 222


    MrAbyss wrote: »
    Precisely. Irish Rail already own most of the land needed. If Nenagh had direct services to Dublin watch the ridership on the branch explode as well are overall passenger growth in all directions.

    It's a bit of a no brainer to install it. The only train I can think of that would use it now is a PW train which would have to run around on the island platform and reverse into the bay.


  • Registered Users Posts: 312 ✭✭ohographite


    road_high wrote: »
    Thomastown is 127km from Heston, Nenagh is 156 km so no they ain't a similar distance from Dublin and likely have a completely different passenger dynamic. If anything Thomastown station location outside of the town robs it of more passengers that it has.

    Thomastown station's remote location(15 minute walk from the town centre) is a problem Nenagh station doesn't have(5 minute walk from town centre).
    Nenagh station has an advantage over Thomastown station.

    Nenagh station's location:
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Nenagh/@52.8609381,-8.2132455,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x485c915a98e5f6f3:0x7bf26ea33b0bc15!8m2!3d52.8604733!4d-8.1951839

    Thomastown station's location:
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Thomastown/@52.5244334,-7.1455654,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x485d34f16ba13441:0x5b948bcab7eef92e!8m2!3d52.5230985!4d-7.1490204


    Okay, if Thomastown isn't the best comparison to make with Nenagh, I can compare Nenagh to somewhere else.
    Ballinasloe and Nenagh are comparable distances from Dublin.
    Ballinasloe is roughly 150 km from Dublin, and has 6k people.
    Nenagh is also roughly 150 km from Dublin, and has 8k people.
    They have the same kind of road connection to Dublin.
    Ballinasloe has a much busier train station than Nenagh, but I think Nenagh's train station could be equally busy if the Nenagh line was upgraded to the standard I had suggested before.(8 trains each way daily, running Limerick directly to Dublin, taking around 2 hours 15 minutes).

    I can compare Athenry and Castleconnell too.
    Athenry has 4k people, and is about 190 km from Dublin, and 20 km from Galway.
    Castleconnell has 2k people(half as much as Athenry), and is also about 190 km from Dublin and around 15km from Limerick(similar population to Galway).
    Athenry has a much busier station than Castleconnell as well, much more than twice as busy, even though it has only twice the population of Castleconnell.
    I also think the patronage of Castleconnell could substantially increase with an upgrade to the Nenagh line.


    I'm aware the passenger dynamics probably aren't identical in the two pairs of towns I've given, but my point is that there is a massive difference in the amount of passengers using these stations, and that's why I believe upgrading Nenagh line would attract so many more passengers.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,682 ✭✭✭✭Jamie2k9


    IE 222 wrote: »
    What sort of numbers did the morning IC from Limerick to Dublin attract. I'm guessing it was low as they pulled after a year or so.

    There is absolutely no justification for 8 services a day each way. That's more than the Waterford line. At a push 4 a day, 3 local (1= morning, afternoon and evening) and running 1 of the direct Limerick Intercity services via Neagh each way.

    You could count on one hand and prehaps two on a good day with a cost figure of €250,000 a year or €1,000 a day..


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