Last week, Ballinasloe was to be the jumping off point for the latest of my Bord na Mona adventures (to be covered in Tracking the Light in the future).
Irish Rail’s Galway line wouldn’t be an operation characterized by variety. Except for the very occasional excursion, the vast majority of movements consist of the common 22000-series Intercity Railcars (ICRs).
So, when I positioned myself at the Dublin end of the down platform, my intent was to document the ICR that I’d arrive upon with Ballinasloe’s handsome Midland Great Western Railway station.
Why was the up-home signal green? We’d just crossed the up-Galway at Athlone.
As the 0735 Dublin to Galway train pulled away, I was startled and surprised to see a pair of 2800-series railcars ready to depart up-road. What was this?
After I made my photos, it occurred to me that this was the weekly equipment transfer for the Ballina Branch. Ah, yes. And perhaps, I should have known.
I’m happy that I had camera in hand to picture this relatively unusual movement. Sometimes, even when you think you know what to expect, something sneaks up and surprises you!
About a week ago an Irish Rail ICR rolled past me. These parade by at such regularity that I often pay them little notice. Nice to travel on, but common.
Hey, wait . . . did that one have purple doors? (Since delivery in 2007-2008, these have been forest green).
It did. And I failed to even lift the camera to make a photo.
Shame on me.
So, the other day in nice light when an ICR approached, I was ready. And this one too had the purple doors.
I wasn’t out for the ICR, but rather for the down IWT liner (container train to Ballina, County Mayo) that was running late. Actually, I was on my way to buy batteries for my Nikon F3, which had failed the day before. The stop at Islandbridge Junction was a sideshow.
As I got off the down Waterford train from Dublin at Bagenalstown, County Carlow, I immediately began considering photo options. I didn’t have much time, because the train was only in the station for a couple of minutes.
I took a position at the back of the Irish Rail ICR adjacent to the old station building, and made a series of digital photos using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm Fuji zoom lens.
I’ve selected two of the sequence here: One wide angle, one telephoto; same camera, same location, same vantage point, same railcar, but different focal lengths.
To make the most of this scene I needed to make some global (overall) and localized contrast adjustments in Lightroom. This was necessary to compensate for the contrast characteristics inherent to the digital file produced by my FujiFilm X-T1.
I worked with the RAW file which has substantially more data than the in-camera JPG (which is compressed and thus offers very little information above what is immediately visible to the eye).
Yes all true, but I’d traveled down to catch the return leg of steam hauled The Marble City rail tour operated by the Railway Preservation Society Ireland.
Earlier in the day I’d photographed the train departing Dublin (as featured in yesterday’s Tracking the Light post The Marble City Tour at Islandbridge.)
I departed Dublin Heuston on the 1430 suburban train heading for Sallins. I was fortunate to travel on a five-piece intercity rail car (ICR), which was comfortable and mostly empty.
Arriving Sallins, County Kildare at 2:55pm, I had time for a leisurely bacon and cabbage lunch at the Lock 13 Pub—located along the Grand Canal a short walk from the station. I’d arranged to meet fellow photographer Hugh Dempsey after 4pm to explore some track side locations nearly in anticipation of photographing locomotive 461 with The Marble City.
The special was scheduled to depart Athy at 2:55 pm and according to Irish Rail company literature would depart Kildare at precisely 5:23 pm and 30 seconds. Armed with this information we scouted a bridge near milepost 17 and waited.
The usual procession of up and down passenger trains passed, mostly using the common Irish Rail Rotem-built ICRs—like the one I’d traveled down on.
The weather changed from sunny to pouring rain rather suddenly; uncomfortable, but not unusual.
We’d expected The Marble City to pass by about 5:50pm. More ICRs up and down, but no sign of the steam. By 6:30pm we were wondering what had gone wrong.
After another hour we learned that there had been a fatality on the line south of Cherryville Junction (where the line to Kilkenny and Waterford diverges from the mainline to Cork) and 461 with The Marble City was being held at Athy! Oh no.
On March 13, 2014, I bought a day-return from Dublin Heuston to Foxford, Co. Mayo, and traveled on the 7:35 am Galway train. My train was well patronized, but I had no difficulty finding a seat.
It was foggy in Dublin. Ensconced in my seat, I observed that my train departed Heuston precisely on time and soon was rolling down-road at track speed.
My train was a four-piece Rotem-built Intercity Rail Car, of the type that is now standard for most Irish Rail Intercity services.
Except for some rough spots west of Kildare, the ride quality was comfortable and smooth.
At Portarlington, we diverged from the Dublin-Cork mainline and traveled on the single track branch toward Athlone. At Clara we crossed (met) an uproad train.
I changed trains at Athone. Here another four piece ICR was waiting to continue the journey toward Co. Mayo. At Castlerea we met the Ballina-Dublin IWT liner, a train I’ve often photographed.
Upon reaching Manulla Junction, I again changed trains, this time for the 2800-series railcar that works the Ballina Branch. Years ago this would have been a single General Motors class 141/181 Bo-Bo diesel electric with a short Craven set.
When I arrived in Foxford I was met by my friend Noel Enright. We spent the rest of daylight photographing trains and visiting friends. I’ll post those adventures soon! Stay tuned.
Click here for views of Irish Rail 077 in the new livery!
I featured Dublin’s Heuston Station in my 2002 book, Railway Masterpieces. Here’s a an excerpt of my text:
Located near the Guinness Brewery along the south bank of the River Liffey, Dublin’s Heuston Station is a classic example of a railway terminal from the dawn of the railway age. Despite its age it still serves as one of the city’s primary railway stations and is among the oldest railway stations in continuous use in the world. Few stations have survived from the formative age of railways, and far fewer city terminals exist from this period.
“The Dublin terminal was formerly known as Kingsbridge and was renamed in 1966, along with many other stations in Ireland, as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. At this time, railway stations were renamed in honor of participants in the Rising who had been executed by British authorities in the aftermath of the event, so this station is named for Sean Heuston.”
On April 9, 2013, I facilitated a short tour of Heuston for visiting Amtrak locomotive engineer Douglas Kydd who was on vacation in Ireland with his Fiancée. Among the highlights was the opportunity to inspect one Irish Rail’s newest trains.