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Saturday’s (13 April 2019) The West Awakerail tour put Irish Rail’s class 071 diesels in the limelight.
Although once regularly used in prominent passenger services, in recent years Irish Rail’s 071 class General Motors diesels have largely been assigned to freight and per-way (maintenance) trains, which makes their prominent use in excursion work of great interest to observers
I photographed 071 locomotives that participated in Saturday’s tour. Engine 074 delivered Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s Cravens carriages from Irish Rail’s Inchicore Works to Connolly Station in Dublin.
Locomotives 082 and 075 had been specially prepared for the tour and set up of multiple unit working, a highly unusual arrangement for these agile six-motor diesels in Ireland.
At Claremorris, the 071 class-leader (number 071 and dressed in retro orange and black paint) took over for the runs to Ballina and Westport.
For 071 enthusiasts, 082 was a special treat because of its extra-loud base roar in the higher throttle positions. While 075 is a curiosity because it is painted in a slightly warmer shade of gray than most of the other members of its class.
I made these photos of the well-maintained 1970s-era General Motors locomotive on parade during The West Awake tour.
Special thanks to everyone at Irish Rail and the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland for making the tour a very enjoyable experience and productive photographic opportunity!
Today, 14 October 2017, is the date of the long anticipated Munster Double tour (operated by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland in conjunction with Irish Rail), so I thought I’d run these images from 2006 when I photographed Irish Rail 080 working a Dublin-Tralee passenger train passing Limerick Junction.
On Friday, 13 January 2006, David Hegarty and I had been photographing Irish Rail’s sugar beet trains. Toward the end of the daylight we found ourselves at Limerick Junction in time to catch the Friday only ‘down Kerry’ that was still regularly worked with steam-heated Cravens carriages.
At the time, the new Mark4 trains were still being tested and hadn’t yet entered regular traffic.
Yesterday, I presented scaled camera JPGs of Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s The Western Explorer, which operated from Dublin’s Connolly Station on 22 October 2016.
Today’s selection, are photos made using my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera, but using the Camera RAW files and manipulating the data in Lightroom to present a more pleasing image.
Using contrast controls, I’ve maximized detail in highlights and shadows while adjusting colour saturation and exposure to produce more refined final images.
The day of trip featured fine weather and fluffy/lacey clouds decorated a largely blue sky. To bring in sky detail, it was necessary to locally adjust exposure and contrast using a digitally applied graduated filter.
In other instances, I manually lightened shadow areas, that without such adjustment would appear too dark and lacking in necessary detail.
On the day, steam locomotive 461 had done the honors for the paying passengers.
After the train arrived back at Connolly, freshly painted Irish Rail 071 (class leader) tied onto the empty carriages to bring them across to Inchicore.
I exposed this view at the end of the day using my Nikon F3 with 24mm lens. Using my perfected chemical recipe, I processed the Fuji Acros 100 film in Kodak HC110 then toned the negatives with selenium solution. Finally, I scanned them and made minor adjustments in Lightroom (mostly to remove dust spots).
Why black & white? Why film?
I’ve always exposed film, and while digital photography tends to dominate my image making, I still expose the occasional roll of B&W or color slide film.
Between September and January Irish Rail moved sugar beet from a loading facility at Wellingtonbridge to a processing factory in Mallow county Cork. In the last beet season, six days a week Wellingtonbridge loaded six to seven trains.
This was Irish Rail’s most intensive freight operation and operated with a fleet of ancient looking four-wheel beet wagons.
Short sidings at Wellingtonbridge required the shunting of most laden trains. On this frosty clear autumn afternoon, I made a variety of images on Fujichrome with my Nikon F3T to capture the atmosphere of this operation.
What sticks in my mind were the background sounds of conveyors dumping freshly harvested beet into the old wagons and the signal cabin with its mechanical signals and Victorian-era electric staff machine and bells. The scene is all quiet today.
Every so often the sun shines in Ireland. When it does, it helps to be in position to make photographs. As it happened, on Friday September 27, 2013, Colm O’Callaghan and I were at Stacumny Bridge, near Hazelhatch in suburban Dublin.
Our aim was to photograph the down IWT (International Warehousing and Transport) liner which had an 071 class diesel leading. Stacumny Bridge is a favorite location to catch down-road trains mid-morning because of the broad open view of the tracks and favorable sun angle. I’ve post photos from this location on previous occasions.
While waiting for the liner, we got word of an up road wagon transfer. And caught that a few minutes before the liner came down. Then we heard that there was a permanent way department (PWD or ‘Per way’) ballast train coming up road as well. This was one of the elusive high output ballast trains (HOBS) I’ve mentioned in other posts.
Although an annoying small cloud softened the light at Stacumny when the HOBS roared up road. We pursued the train up to Dublin and caught it again reversing into the old Guinness sidings at Heuston Station.
For the all hours scouring the countryside for photos on dull days, it’s rewarding to catch a clattering of interesting action in just over an hour on a bright day. This is down to watching the weather, combined with patience and persistence and a good bit of luck.
Tomorrow: Tracking the Light looks back 13 years at Stacumny Bridge. What a change!
Tracking the Light posts new material on a daily basis.
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.
In previous posts I focused on the human side of Irish Railway Record Society’s Dublin-Cork excursion on 20 July 2013.
However, I also made my own share of classic views showing Saturday’s railway excursion at identifiable locations. I’ve displayed a few view here. In addition to digital image I also exposed color slides at key locations.
See posts from the last few days for more views of Irish Railway Record Society’s 20 July 2013 diesel hauled trip on Irish Rail to Cork, Cobh and Midleton.
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.
I traveled on the Irish Railway Record Society’s “Special Train” consisting of locomotive hauled Cravens carriages to Kent Station Cork, with side trips Cobh, and Midleton operated on 20 July 2013.
My reasons for traveling were largely to visit with friends on and about the train while enjoying a spin around Cork.
The special was unusual. The carriages were Railway Preservation Society’s former Irish Rail Cravens. It’s been nearly seven years since the old Cravens were withdrawn from regular service, thus ending Irish Rail’s routine use of traditional steam heated stock.
More usual was operation of a pair of Irish Rail’s General Motors-built class 071 diesel-electric locomotives. In the last few years, most Irish Rail trains have been operated with various classes of self-propelled rail cars. The exceptions being Dublin-Cork push-pull trains and the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise, both of which routinely call for class 201 diesels.
Thus, the 071 diesels have been largely relegated to freight and per-way (maintenance) service. The days of 071s roaring in ‘run 8’ (maximum throttle) down the Cork mainline hauling Mark II, Mark III or Cravens carriages in regular service is a memory.
Pairs of 071s were never common and multiple working of 071 virtually unknown (although it has been known to have occurred, at least once). So the ability to travel behind a pair of 071s was indeed very unusual. On Saturday’s trip only one of the locomotives was working at a time.
Also, this trip featured freshly painted 071-class leader, now officially known as ’92 60 0117071-7′ in an effort to comply with European common numbering. It’s still just engine 071 to the rest of us.
So far as I know, this was the first scheduled passenger service with an 071 in Irish Rail’s new gray and yellow livery. While, I’d previously photographed 077 (pardon me for not using its full European number) in this paint, this was my first opportunity to make photographs of 071 in gray.
I was impressed with the time keeping. I enjoyed the company on board the train and on the platforms. All of Irish Rail’s and IRRS staff performed admirably, efficiently, and safely. On the trips to Cobh and Midleton, and especially on the return run to Dublin, driver Ken Fox showed exceptional professionalism and skill of operation.
Yet, what impressed me the most, and by far the most unusual aspect of the trip, was they call here ‘wall to wall sun’. Although, I’m told there’s been a spell of good weather in Ireland, I cannot recall the last time I’ve taken an entirely cloud free railway trip in Ireland!
I made this pair of images of the daily afternoon Dublin Connolly to Sligo passenger train passing the long closed station at Hill of Down on the old Midland Great Western Railway mainline. Class 071 locomotive number 073 leads Mark II carriages.
The old Midland follows the Royal Canal for many miles west of Dublin. This pastoral route was one of my favorite Irish rail subjects in the early 2000s. Although it wasn’t as busy as other routes, the combination of scenery, friendly signalmen and gatekeepers, and quaint old trains made for seemingly endless photographic possibilities.
At the time most trains were locomotive hauled with vintage General Motors diesels.
In additional to class 071 diesels working Mark II and Cravens passenger consists, the old classes 121, 141 and 181s regularly worked freight.
Today the line is exclusively run with diesel rail cars.