I’ve been exploring and photographing Irish railways since 1998. To mark my twenty years photography, I’ve been displaying images of each of Irish Rail’s 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order.
Irish Rail 215. Is this my least favorite of the 201 class locomotives?
It’s probably my most photographed.
My first recognition of the 215-effect was on a trip to Galway many years ago. Friends were visiting from America and we were traveling on the Mark3 International set.
Soon after departing Dublin Heuston, it was evident that the train was in trouble. We weren’t making track speed. When we got to Hazelhatch, our train took the loop. Old 215 had failed. We waited there for about 40 minutes until 203 was summoned for a rescue.
Some months later, I returned from Boston to Dublin, and on the front page of the papers was 215 at Heuston Station—on its side! It had derailed.
And which loco worked the very first publically scheduled Mark IV set from Dublin to Cork?
Out for the down train, take a guess which loco I’m most likely to catch!
Uh! There it is again. Damn thing is a like a shadow.
This pair of photos depict Irish Rail class 201, engine number 214 at work on passenger and freight.
The top photo was exposed in July 2005. I wanted to make a photo of the 0700 (7am) Dublin-Cork passenger train departing Dublin Heuston, before the service was changed to one of the new Mark4 sets.
My theory was that this service was rarely photographed leaving Dublin owing to the early hour and backlit sun. I had months left to do this, but by July the days were getting shorter, and by the following summer the Mark 4s would be in traffic. (It pays to think ahead).
So I went to my favorite spot on the St. John’s Road, and used my Contax G2 with 28mm lens and exposed a few frames of Fujichrome Sensia (100).
The bottom photo was exposed at Mallow on 18 July, 2003 at 0622 (6:22am). I’d gone out for another train, but instead caught this late running cement that was carrying some containers at the front. The train paused for three minutes at Mallow to change crews.
These are part of my continuing series on the Irish Rail 201 class locomotives aimed to mark my 20 years of railway photography in Ireland (1998-2018).
Years past, I made many colourful photos of Irish Rail 213 River Moy on bright Spring days.
One of my first encounters was in May 1998 at Carlow. I’d arrived by bus (Shhh!!) and made photos of the down train (Dublin to Waterford) at Carlow station using my Nikon F3T loaded with Fujichrome Sensia 100.
Seven years later, in the Spring of 2005, I was keen to catch 213 on the move, since this was the first Irish Rail class 201 to wear the revised orange livery with bright yellow front end.
I saw this as a big improvement over the original 201 livery.
And because it fits the theme, I’ve also included a view from April 2006, of 213 descending Ballybrophy-bank racing toward Dublin.
213 hasn’t turned a wheel in many a Spring now. It waits its turn in the sun in a deadline at Inchicore.
I made this panned view of Irish Rail class 201 number 212 working up-road at Cherryville Junction on 11 January 2003.
Panning is an effective technique for conveying motion. For this view I used a short telephoto lens and a comparatively slow shutter speed, probably about 1/60thof a second, while moving the camera in tandem with the locomotive.
Key to making an effective pan is maintaining constant speed and smooth motion.
Novice panners may make the mistake of stopping panning as they release the shutter. This results in a jarring complete blur that produces something less than the intended effect.
Tracking the Light Publishes New Material Each and Every Day.
Next up for my 20 years in Ireland/class 201 numerical retrospective is old 208/8208: to be different, I’m posting views of 8208 (one of two Class 201s owned by NIR for Enterprise service) working a variety of trains but not the Enterprise!
Originally, the locomotive was number 208, and it had been painted in an attractive NIR blue livery, similar to the 111-class diesels.
One locomotive; Three variations on the Enterprise livery.
In the last 20 years, I’ve crossed paths with old 207 on a number of occasions. Often on the Enterprise,but elsewhere across Irish Rail as well.
To my knowledge it was the only Enterprise201 to receive the large bright yellow patch at the ends, similar to the treatment given to orange 201s (201-205 and 210-215) beginning in 2005. [UPDATE: Kieran Marshall has reminded me that 233 was also treated with the large yellow patch at ends.]
Today, it is one of several locomotives painted in the modern Enterprise livery with asymmetrical purple and scarlet swooshes along the sides.
As part of my 20 years in Ireland/201 numerical retrospective, this is my opportunity to present a few views of Irish Rail 206.
When I first arrived in Ireland in 1998, 201-class locomotives numbers 206 to 209 (as they were then identified) were painted for the cross-border Belfast-Dublin Enterprisepassenger service.
It is my understanding that these four numbers were chosen for the Enterprise201s to pay historical tribute to steam locomotives of the same numbers that had worked the service in an earlier era.
In my time these were painted specifically for the re-equipped Enterprise using De Dietrich carriages (derived from the original French TGV single-level carriages)
Of the four, 206 River Liffey has been my favorite, but until relatively recently it is also one of the more elusive 201s in passenger service (in regards to my photography).
Around 2002, it suffered a fire and was out of traffic for about three years. When it returned, it spent months working freights.
Only recently, have I again found it regularly working as intended. It now wears the latest Enterprise livery, which is laterally asymmetrical and features a giant purple swoop across the side of the locomotive.
Not as rare to my lens as 202, but not as common as say 201, 205, or the seeming omnipresent 215. Today, views of 204 on the move are still pretty neat since it’s been more than eight years since it turned a wheel.
These are all Fujichrome photos, since I never photographed 204 at work using a digital camera. Maybe someday it will return to service. But even then I might take it on slide film for old time sake.
As part of my 20 years in Ireland/201 numerical retrospective, I’ll offer just a couple views of Irish Rail 203.
My memories of this engine are largely the blast a horn and the rush of air as it passed with Mark 3 carriages in tow on the Dublin-Cork line.
One instance stands out about the others though: I was showing some American friends around the island; we’d borded the Cu na Mara Mark3 international set at Heuston behind locomotive 215 destined for Galway. We got as far as Hazel Hatch, when 215 coiled up and we were sent into the loop to await a rescue loco from Inchicore.
Guess which engine was sent to bring us to Galway? (This is not a trick question).
Here’s the backstory: In the dozen or so years between 1998 and when Irish Rail withdrew and stored a portion of its relatively modern EMD-built 201-class locomotives (numbers 201-205, 210-214), I spent a lot of time wandering the system making photos.
Some locomotives were common; I must have a hundred photos of class leader 201 on the roll (featured in the first 201 Retrospective installment). And every time I turned around, I seem to find 215 leading a train.
Of the 35 201s, I found that engine 202 was by far the most elusive.
Several years ago, I scoured my files and located just 3 colour slides of 202.
A subsequent review of black & white negatives turned up another image (displayed in my October 2017 post, linked above).
I knew there must be more. Irish Rail 202 was among the 201s to receive the improved orange and black livery with bright yellow ends. I simply had to have made photos of it in that livery!
So, as I was trolling through hundreds of boxes of slides over the last few months, I kept an eye open and lo and behold! I found several more images of the elusive locomotive.
My questions are: why was 202 so elusive? Was it simply luck of the draw that I rarely saw it on the move? Was 202 hiding somewhere? Was it especially unreliable and spent most of the time at Inchicore awaiting repair?
You might wonder why I didn’t find these photos sooner. The answer has several considerations; at the time of exposure the photos didn’t make my final cut. While there’s nothing horribly wrong with these photos, there’s minor technical flaws that resulted in me discounting them.
Also, the significance of these images wasn’t evident to me at the time of exposure and so remained in the little green boxes and hadn’t been transferred to my preferred files. Lastly, I don’t organize my slides by locomotive number, so finding a specific engine photo can be challenging.
The point of this exercise is that sometimes the content of a photo becomes more interesting as time passes. The photo of a fairly ordinary locomotive at work has greater interest after that engine is withdrawn from traffic.
To mark my twenty years photographing Irish Railways, I thought it would be a neat exercise to display images of each of the 201-class General Motors diesels in numerical order. I’ll intersperse these posts with other Tracking the Light features.
Today, I’m beginning with the class leader. This engine famously arrived in Ireland in a Russian-built cargo plane.
That event was before my time in Ireland, but I made hundreds of photos of engine 201 around Ireland before it was withdrawn from traffic and stored at Inchicore.
Next in this series, I’ll feature never before published photos of Irish Rail’s very elusive 202.