Tracking the Light Special Post: Emerald Isle Express on the South Wexford Line

Monday, September 29, 2014.

Looking west toward Duncormack, Wexford on the rusty South Wexford Line. A black & white print of a train climbing the grade here decorated my wall for years. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Looking west toward Duncormack, Wexford on the rusty South Wexford Line. A black & white print of a train climbing the grade here decorated my wall for years. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Today saw a rare movement on a line devoid of regular traffic. Railtours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Express train was operated as empty carriage across the length of the South Wexford line from Rosslare Strand to Waterford.

Looking east toward the Robinstown Level Crossing. September 29, 2014,  exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Looking east toward the Robinstown Level Crossing. September 29, 2014, exposed with my Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.

Railtours Ireland’s Emerald Isle Express is a high-end tour train making a week-long tour of Irish Rail. This position-move was the most direct means of getting the train from Wexford to Waterford and saved a lengthy deadhead via Dublin and Cherryville. It was operated by Irish Rail in conjunction with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

This was the first time I’ve photographed a train on the South Wexford in about six years. This line is storied ground: it was a favorite subject of mine a decade ago when a regular passenger service ran from Rosslare Harbour to Waterford using vintage General Motors diesels, and Cravens carriages like those that traveled the line today.

It was also the route of seasonal sugar beet trains that loaded at Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford for processing at Mallow, County Cork. Between 1999 and 2005, I made more than 50 trips to photograph the sugar beet, a project that resulted in thousands of color slides, black & white negatives, and DAT audio recordings. I could make a book of it.

Today, I traveled down from Dublin with Mark Healy to catch this unusual move. It was strange (and sad) to see this once-familiar line with rusty rails and heavy over growth along the right of way.

While my best photos of the day were exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F with my trusted Canon EOS 3, I’ve published a few of my digital results here.

The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
FInally after weeks, months, and years of disuse a train comes to polish the rails. (I'm not counting the weedsprayer, inspection cars, or other perway moves, for the sake of sentiment.) The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
FInally after weeks, months, and years of disuse, a train comes to polish the rails. (I’m not counting the weedsprayer, inspection cars, or other perway moves, for the sake of sentiment.) The Emerald Isle Express works west of Robinstown, County Wexford toward Duncormick on September 29, 2014. Canon EOS 7D with 200mm lens.
Rusty bullhead track at Ballycullane, County Wexford.
Rusty bullhead track at Ballycullane, County Wexford.
The Emerald Isle Express passes Ballycullane, County Wexford on September 29, 2014.  Regular schedule passenger service was withdrawn in 2010. The last sugarbeet train passed in early 2006—more than eight years ago. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
The Emerald Isle Express passes Ballycullane, County Wexford on September 29, 2014. Regular schedule passenger service was withdrawn in 2010. The last sugarbeet train passed in early 2006—more than eight years ago. Canon EOS 7D with 100mm lens.
Trailing view at Ballycullane, County Wexford. Lumix LX7 photo.
Trailing view at Ballycullane, County Wexford. Lumix LX7 photo.

Special thanks to everyone at Irish Rail, Railway Preservation Society Ireland, and Railtours Ireland for making this unusual move possible! (And thanks to Mark for the lift!)

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