Irish Rail—April 18, 2014.
Good Friday has a long-standing tradition of being a special day on Irish Rail. The weather is usually fine, and there’s always something interesting on the move.
This year Good Friday again met, and exceeded, expectations. The previous day had been a disappointment.
On Thursday, April 17, 2014, my friend Colm O’Callaghan and I had been out for the Irish Rail Sperry train. (Previously in Tracking the Light, I’ve highlighted this elusive rail-defect detection train, see: Sperry Train at Islandbridge Junction on August 30, 2012). On that day, we waited in vain under increasingly cloudy skies. As it turned out the Sperry’s plan for the day was cancelled.
When Good Friday dawned clear and bright, I wondered if there was anything on the move. I’d set out for the shops to get some breakfast, but had the wisdom to bring some of my cameras with me.
On the way, I stopped at my familiar Islandbridge Junction overlook (near Heuston Station), where I noted that a railcar transfer was in progress. I made some photographs. Then, I heard from Colm: the Sperry train was expected to depart Dublin’s North Wall after 10am! Wheels were turning!
My morning shopping trip was suspended as we headed ‘down road’ to find places to intercept one of Ireland’s most difficult quarries. This Sperry rail-defect detection train only makes a few trips a year, and it had changed its program on a moment’s notice!
Our quick action and careful thought paid off. As it turned out, the Sperry was working up and down on the quad track section of the Cork line. So, we had several excellent opportunities for photography. Assisting our efforts were regular updates and communications from like-minded photographers up and down the line from our positions. (Thanks guys!).
For me the day’s highlight followed a tense moment at Stacumny Bridge (near Hazelhatch), when the up-road IWT Liner (Ballina to Dublin container train) and the Sperry train (working down road) approached us simultaneously! This had all the ingredients for a photographic disaster.
Trying to position for two moving trains in opposite directions takes skill and a lot of luck. We were very lucky. In the end, while I didn’t get what I’d anticipated, instead, made a once in a lifetime photograph: the near perfect rolling meet between the liner and Sperry train under full sun! Yea!
The downside: by the end of the day my poor old Panasonic Lumix LX3 developed a minor intermittent electrical fault. While, I was still able to make photographs with it, its reliable performance is now in question. After near five years of hard service, my favorite ‘everywhere camera’ may need to be replaced! In the meantime, I’ve got my Canon EOS 7D, plus Canon film cameras and my old Nikons to fall back on.
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