Yesterday (22 October 2016) the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in cooperation with Irish Rail operated a diesel-hauled excursion making a circle trip from Dublin’s Connolly Station.
Among the goals for the tour was a fundraising effort to help restore RPSI’s 1960-era class 121/141 General Motors diesels to traffic.
To emphasize the roll of heritage diesels, Irish Rail locomotive 071 (class leader) wearing the retro 1970s ‘Super Train’ livery worked from Dublin to Limerick, with engine 084 (in modern gray and yellow) bringing the train back up to Dublin.
My interest was in capturing the spirit of the day. In addition to photographs of the equipment, I focused on people; Irish Rail employees, RPSI volunteers and organizers, and passengers.
My cameras were busy all day. I made more than 500 digital images; so I’ll be editing my files for some hours yet.
This first round of photographs is a selection of camera-JPGs from my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera. Since the JPGs don’t require much work (except for scaling) these are easier to put up quickly. Later I’ll present a selection of images made from Camera RAW files, and finally a few views with my Lumix LX7.
As is often the case, I also exposed some 35mm slides, but those remain latent for the moment.
So far just three of Irish Rail’s 071 class are operating in the new gray livery. So catching one on the move in sunlight can be a challenge. Ballast trains operate infrequently, and standing at this spot for a month of Sunday’s might not guarantee an image such as this. It helps to live near the line.
The cars make up what Irish Rail calls a ‘High Output Ballast’ train which is known on the railway as the HOBS. Using my Canon EOS 7D, I exposed a series of photos of the train on the curve from the Phoenix Park tunnel at Islandbridge Junction.
The combination of elevation, iconic backdrop and the orientation of the tracks and curve allow for one of the best morning views in Dublin for a westward train. As the sun swings around, many more angles open up down the line.
Among the photographic events was the rare locomotive hauled consist on Cobh and Midleton Branches. The Cobh branch has been exclusively a railcar operation since the mid-2000s, while the Midleton line has only seen railcar operation since its reopening a few years ago.
In time-honoured tradition, at every photo stop, photographers rushed to snap images of the train. Occasionally, an individual entranced by the fresh paint on locomotive 071 or fascinated by some other peculiarity of operation or equipment, would wander haplessly in front of a line of eager photographers. Shouts of ‘Hey!’ ‘Oy!’, ‘Down in front!’ and the like would ensue.
Especially amusing was when a particularly oblivious passenger or passerby would drift with their backs to the anxious photo line (time is precious on these outings as only a few minutes are allowed at each stop), and proceed to linger staring in wonder at the train. In such cases a diplomat would be elected to negotiate a solution.
A Cobh, I was queried by a German woman as to why so many people were photographing the train. It didn’t appear in the slightest bit unusual to her. Significance is in the eye of the observer. I explained that, ‘locomotives were never operated on this line, and the locomotive that brought the train down was in fresh paint, and that the train had carried the photographers for this purpose.’ She seemed satisfied with that.
While I made plenty of images of the train, 071 and 073 and etc, I also focused on the people. From my experience, images of people surrounding the train tend to be more interesting than the train, and tend to have greater value in the end.
At noon on May 13, 2006, David Hegarty and I photographed this Modern Railway Society Ireland special exiting the tunnel at Ferrycarrig, County Wexford on the old Dublin & South Eastern Railway. The gorse lined tunnel made for an unusually scenic view. My notes from the day indicate that driver Ray Collins was at the throttle.
We followed the train, catching it again on the South Wexford line near Robbinstown, and later in the day between Waterford and Carrick-on-Suir at Fiddown, then one last time at Nicholastown Gates. It wasn’t the brightest day in Ireland, but that didn’t stop us for making some memorable images.
This time last week (Thursday March 21) I was getting ready to fly to Brussels. My bag was packed; my passport and tickets were organized. Then word came over the telegraph that an 071 was to work Irish Rail’s second Dublin-Ballina IWT Liner (International Warehousing and Transport)
As previously mentioned on Tracking the Light (see: Irish Rail at Clondalkin, February 21, 2013), Irish Rail runs a weekday container train between Dublin and Ballina. On Thursdays, traffic demands a second Dublin-Ballina train.
In recent months, Irish Rail has largely assigned its common 1994-1995 General Motors 201-Class diesels to this freight service, and the older General Motors 071-Class have only worked it infrequently. So, when I heard that Irish Rail 075 was on the train, I was keen to make some photos.
I had two hours before I needed to aim for Dublin Airport—plenty of time. On the downside, the weather wasn’t so cooperative. It was overcast, very windy, and spitting rain. Not my favorite conditions, but I’ll make photos in just about any circumstances. So, when my friend Colm O’Callaghan suggested we make the effort, I grabbed my travel bag and cameras and headed out the door.
This would require only a very short wait, or so we thought! When we arrived at Cherry Orchard, an industrial area in the west Dublin suburbs, the telegraph informed us that the second IWT was still in the yard at the North Wall. In other words, it hadn’t left yet, and was still at least 20 minutes away. An hour ticked by. In the mean time we caught the Ballina-Dublin ‘up IWT’ liner with a 201-class.
Then my phone rang; a client needed a photo immediately. A difficult proposition considering that the photo was buried on a hard-drive that I hadn’t planned to access for another week! My plans changed, I had to head home and address this request before making for the airport. My two-hour cushion had just been eroded. Still no IWT liner, and time was running out.
We gave up and were about to leave, when the telegraph came to life: the IWT had passed Islandbridge! It was on its way and not far off. Unfortunately, a clattering of passenger trains preceded it. Another 10 minutes gone. Finally, we heard the approaching roar of a 12-645 turbocharged diesel! Our perseverance paid off: 075 with the ‘down IWT’.
I dashed home, sent off the requested photo, then made for Dublin Airport on the 747 Airport Bus. Stay tuned for my photographs of Belgian railways . . .
The program begins at 1900 (7pm) upstairs at the Exmouth Arms, 1 Starcross Street, LONDON NW1, (advertised as a 5 minute walk from London’s Euston station). A nominal donation of £3.50 is asked of non-IRRS members (members £2.50)