Tag Archives: #Irish Rail

The DART—April 2003

In April 2003, I was traveling on rail-tour returning to Dublin from Belfast, when I made this pacing view of an Irish Rail DART suburban electric train rolling along on an adjacent track.

I was working with my Contax G2 rangefinder fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon, and loaded with Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film.

This is among the photos that I intend to present tonight (October 21, 2021) to the Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts at Malden, Massachusetts.

By working with a comparatively slow shutter speed, I was able to convey the sense of motion.

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Two 201s Together

Under normal circumstances, Irish Rail operates its class 201 General Motors diesel locomotives singly.

Such was not the case three years ago, when on 23 September 2018, photographer Jay Monaghan and I had the rare privilage of picturing a pair of 201s together at Dublin’s Heuston Staton on a train that had just arrived uproad from Cork.

I made this view using my Lumix LX7.

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Grand Hibernian—17 September 2016

Five years ago, I was poised at the army bridge near Mosney over the old Great Northern line to photograph the, then new, Belmond Grand Hibernian on its run from Dublin to Belfast.

This luxury tour train made weekly tours of the Irish network in season.

Irish Rail class 201 number 216 was painted to match Belmond’s train set, and was routinely assigned to the train.

Belmond’s choice of a dark navy blue made for challenging photos in conditions other than bright sun. In photos, this shade of blue often appeared almost black, and when lightened using post processing software tended to shift green.

In this view, I selectively lightened the front of the locomotive, and applied minimal lightening to the shadow areas of the entire scene. I’ve attempted to retain the true color of the train as best I can.

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Room with a View

Irish Rail class 141 number 167 glides over the River Liffey at Islandbridge, Dublin.

I made this view from my old apartment at Islandbridge in December 2005.

Although I had just recently purchased a Canon EOS3, I was still working with my old Nikon F3s, which is what I used to expose this view on Fujichrome.

At the time there were still a number of class 141/181 General Motors diesels working for Irish Rail.

Over the years, the trees and other obstructions gradually hemmed in my view of the tracks, so that by the time I left more than a dozen years later, it was more difficult to obtain an uncluttered photo of a train crossing the Liffey from the apartment.

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Empty Beet on the Barrow Bridge:

On December 28, 2005, toward the end of Irish Rail’s final beet season, I stood on the western shore of the Barrow, where I aimed a Nikon F3 fitted with a 180mm f2.8 lens and loaded with Fujichrome toward the multiple span Pratt truss that crosses the river.

NI Railways 112 (on loan to Irish Rail) worked east across the span at about 5mph with a train of four-wheel empty beet wagons.

Last night I scanned the nearly 16-year old slide using my Epson V600 scanner at relatively high resolution (3200 dpi) then imported the resulting TIF file into Lightroom.

The RAW scan exhibits a minor red tint. To compensate I made a variety of changes. First I moved the black point to the limit of data loss with the aid of the histogram. This adjusted the tonal range of the slide, then I worked with green-magenta and blue-yellow color correction sliders to balance the color, while paying close attention to hue in the shadow areas. 

Finally I made some nominal contrast and saturation changes to make for a more pleasing image before outputting as a medium resolution JPG  crafted for optimum internet presentation.

Below is the unadjusted JPG along with my final adjusted JPG for comparison. Since every computer screen is slightly different and provide varied interpretations of my images.

the proof of  success for my adjustments may be in the color prints that I have yet to make.

This is a JPG made from the unadjusted TIF scan. Notice the slightly red hue and a lack of a rich black tone.
This is the scan following adjustment.
Screen shot of the Lightroom work window.

In addition, I’ve also included a screen shot of the Lightroom control panel so that you may see how I’ve moved the sliders to improve the scan.

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Kent Station, Cork—April 2002.

On a day trip to Cork City (Ireland) in April 2002, I made this photo using my Contax G2 rangefinder on Kodak Tri-X.

I had the camera fitted with a 45mm Zeiss lens. Key to the image tonality was an orange filter, which gives the photo a contrasty snap with lots of texture in the sky while lightening the rendiition of the shade of orange paint on the class 201 diesels.

Kent Station, Cork, Ireland, April 2002.

I’d processed the film using a custom mix of Ilfotec HC.

To scan the film, I used my Epson V600 flatbed scanner with Epson Scan 2 driving software. I made nominal adjustments to contrast using Adobe Lightroom.

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Sligo Timber at Enfield

I made thousands of photos of Irish Rail operations on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). Typically, I had the film processed at Photocare on Abbey Street in Dublin.

In this photo, exposed on a summer Saturday, Irish Rail class 071 number 083 roars up-road at Enfield with a laden timber train. The signalman hands the staff to the driver. The staff authorized the train movement over the section (in this case Enfield to Maynooth).

This image was made was in the final years of traditional electric train staff and semaphore operation on Irish Rail’s Sligo Line.

I’ve been gradually archiving my Irish Rail slides by scanning them at very high resolution, typically between 3200 and 4800 dots per inch, saving the file in TIF format.

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Irish Rail’s Class 121—The locomotive itself!

In October 2002, I exposed this black & white photo of Irish Rail ‘s class 121 that was in the dead-line at Inchicore in Dublin.

Although I have hundreds of photos of the 121 locomotives at work on Irish Rail, I never witnessed the first of the class at work.

This historic locomotive was cut up along with many other 121s in early 2003.

Exposed on black & white film using a Contax G2 with 28mm Biogon lens.

Brian Solomon is traveling ‘off the grid’ for the next few days.

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Irish Rail Glounthaune—April 20, 2015

Six years ago on this day I was visiting Cobh Junction at Glounththaune, Co. Cork.

The Irish Rail station at this suburban Cork village continues to make good use of its classic footbridge, of the sort once common to stations across Ireland.

In recent years many of the old lattice-construction foot-bridges have been supplanted by massive modern structures that lack the simple elegance and basic utility of the old bridges—many of which remain in place as unused relics.

Working with my first Lumix LX7, I made these photos of the footbridge and Irish Rail 2600-series railcars that work suburban services that pause at Glounthaune on their way to and from Cork to outlying stations at Cobh and Midleton.

The Lumix LX7 with its Leica lens and cleverly designed imaging system produces extremely sharp photos with great depth of field.

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Views from the Train—April 10th, 2016.

Five years ago, I traveled on the second leg of a two-day Irish Railway Record Society diesel rail tour. We had laid over at Killarney, and in the morning a select portion of the group made a round trip to Tralee and back, before heading eastward for a circuitous trip back to Dublin.

It was a gray Irish day, raining and spitting snow.

Ken Fox was our driver from Killarney in the morning, and Class 076 was our locomotive.

Traveling on the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Cravens carriages afforded me some great views from the train as we made our way through the lush Spring countryside.

These digital images were exposed using my Fujifilm XT1.

Departing Tralee, Co. Kerry for Killarney.
Approaching Farranfore, Co. Kerry it began to snow . . .
Looking west at Limerick Junction. This scene is much changed today, as a second mainline platform has been added along with a massive modern overhead bridge.
Approaching the home signal for Tipperary on the way to Waterford.
View from the the train near Clonmel, County Tipperary.

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This Day EIght Years Ago!

It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I made the sprint from my old apartment at Islandbridge in Dublin to the top of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the Conyngham Road to catch the elusive HOBS on its run toward Dublin’s North Wall yards.

As previously covered in Tracking the Light, Irish Rail’s modern ballast train is known by its initials HOBS, which stands for High Output Ballast System.

Working with my Canon EOS 7D digital camera, I exposed this sequence of images as the train accelerated around the bend at Islandbridge Junction. Old Irish Rail 074 was in the comparatively short-lived silver, black & yellow freight livery.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.
April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

April 8, 2013. Islandbridge, Dublin.

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Roscrea at Dusk

On the evening of November 27, 2003, I used my old Contax G2 rangefinder to expose this Fujichrome Sensia color slide of Irish Rail’s Nenagh Branch train departing Roscrea, County Tipperary.

This was toward the end of regular locomotive hauled trains on the branch. A few weeks later Irish Rail’s 2700-series diesel railcars would assume most of the runs on this branch, although locomotives with sets Cravens carriages would still occasionally make an appearance on the line into 2004.

Contax G2 with 45mm Zeiss lens.

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A Moment of Sun Near Ballybrophy—2 slides.

It was a dull Friday afternoon in mid June 2005, when DH and I were exploring locations along the Cork Road (Dublin to Cork) between Mountrath, Co Laois and the top of Ballybrophy Bank.

We’d stopped in sight of the tracks on a lightly traveled dirt road, and were cleaning the car, when off to the east we heard the distant drumming of a class 071 in Run-8 (full throttle).

Irish Rail’s class 071s are mid-1970s era EMD diesel-electrics, built with Dash-2 technology and powered with 12-cylinder 645E3 (turbocharged) engine. Their sound is distinctive.

I grabbed my Nikon F3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO). As the Friday-only ‘Down Kerry’ (Dublin Heuston to Tralee) came into view, the sun peaked out from a thick overhead cloud-bank. Irish Rail 072 was driven by Irish Rail’s Ken Fox, who recognized us and gave a few friendly blasts of the hooter (horn).

As the train passed on its ascent toward Ballybrophy, the sound intensified—a characteristic of the doppler effect. We could hear the aged EMD until Ken shut off at the top of the bank—several miles distant.

I scanned these slides a couple of weeks ago.

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Waterford July 2005

To my eye, this 400mm view at Irish Rail’s Waterford yard is more about the tracks and the signaling than about the timber train.

I made the photo using a Nikon N90S loaded with Fujichrome Velvia 100 and fitted with an old Tokina 400mm lens.

Backlighting accentuated the trackage while making silhouette of the signals and lighting polls. It also give the distant trees a dream-like pastoral effect.

I was standing on the platform at Waterford Station beneath the main road bridge over the tracks. Notice the wires and rods used to control semaphores and switch points.

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Bogie Beet Reversing.

At first glance this view from November 8, 2005, might appear to be an ordinary container train.

It is not.

During its final season carrying sugar beet, Irish Rail took the tops off some 40ft container and fitted them to bogie (8-wheel) flat wagons to haul beet from Wellingtonbridge Co. Wexford to the sugar factory at Mallow, Co. Cork.

These unusual freight haulers were known as ‘bogie beet wagons’, since Irish Rail’s traditional beet wagons were rigid-base four wheelers.

In this photograph at dusk, a laden sugar beet freight reverses into Limerick Junction, having just come up the line from Waterford that crosses the Dublin-Cork main line at grade (to the right of the signal cabin).

The locomotive will cut off and run around the train in order to proceed to Mallow. This was necessary because there was no direct chord at the Junction to facilitate a direct move. The lights at left had been installed to make it easier to reverse the train at night.

I exposed this photo on a tripod using my Contax G2 Rangefinder with 45mm lens using Fujichrome Sensia slide film. I scanned the slide with an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

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Lumix LX3 and Rare Photo of A ‘Green Golf Ball’

My attention to detail may seem absurd.

When Irish Rail’s Rotem-built 22K series InterCity Railcars (ICRs) were new, they briefly carried set numbers in a painted round circle on the right front above the coupler and adjacent to the headlights. This has been called the ‘green golfball.’

This identification practice was frowned upon and most of the circles were removed after a few months.

Set 7 survived longer than others.

On the evening of December 31, 2009, I made a visit to ‘The Box’ overlooking the wall at Islandbridge Junction in Dublin, where I made this image of ICR set 7 in dramatic winter light using my then new Lumix LX3.

Last night, I found this photo while searching for something else obscure and thought it would make for an interesting Tracking the Light post.

Lumix LX3 photo with 16×9 aspect ratio, RAW file adjusted in Lightroom for internet presentation.
Enlargement of the above image to show the ‘green golfball’ set 7 identification tag.

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Cherryville Junction—March 29, 2002 Part 2.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, here are a few more choice photos from Good Friday 2002, when I visited Cherryville Junction, Co. Kildare.

Effectively unseen for more than 18 years. The other day, I scanned this roll of Fuji Neopan 400 that I had neatly stored in an archival binder.

All the photos were exposed using my old Contax G2 rangefinder that I’d fitted with a 28mm Zeiss Biogon lens. I had four lenses for the camera, of which the 28mm was probably the most useful.

This lens offer a characteristic look and exceptional sharpness. I still have the camera and the lens, but the body stopped working back 2007, more than five years after these photos was made.

Down 1205 liner to Cork with locomotive 216 at Cherryville Jct.
1205 liner clatters through Cherryville Jct.
Irish Rail 133 and 159 lead the up bulk-bogie cement at Cherryville Jct.
Irish Rail 133 and 159 lead the up bulk-bogie cement at Cherryville Jct.
Down push-pull.
Sunset at Cherryville Jct with an up train headed toward Dublin.

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Good Friday at Cherryville Junction. Five Photos!

And it’s a was a very good Friday too. Years ago, Good Friday was a busy day on Irish Rail and there was lots to garner a photographer’s attention.

In addition to Railway Preservation Society of Ireland steam excursions, and ‘extra’ Friday-only passenger trains, Irish Rail tended to operate a lot of daylight freight.

So on the morning of March 29, 2002, Hassard Stacpoole and I joined Paul Quinlan at Kildare for a foray to Cherryville Junction (where the Waterford Line joins the Dublin-Cork mainline) and spent the day rolling by the parade of trains.

I made most of my photos on Fujichrome slide film, but also exposed a roll of Fuji Neopan 400 black & white film in my Contax G2 rangefinder with a yellow filter.  I processed this in Agfa Rodinal Special (mixed 1-32) for 3 minutes 45 seconds at 20c.

Then after 18 years in an archival box, yesterday I decided to scan a few of the photos for presentation here.

Irish Rail class 201 number 226 pushes a Mark3 push-pull working the up Waterford.
Irish Rail 087 with down Waterford.

Class 201 number 219 works the up ammonia.
Trailing view of the up ammonia.
Railcars running toward Waterford (or Carlow?) at sunset.

What may have passed as ordinary in 2002, now looks fascinating.

More to come from that day soon!

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Ballast at Tipperary

In August 2003, I exposed this photo of an Irish Rail ballast train at Tipperary that was in the passing loop.

At the time I was working with a Rolleiflex Model T that used 120 size roll film.

I was using Kodak Tri-X (400 ISO) that I processed in Ilfotec HC and toned in Selenium to improve the highlights. I scanned the photo last night using an Epson V600 flatbed scanner.

There is an amazing amount of detail in this photo. I’ve enlarged one small section of it as an example.

At the time Irish Rail class 141 number 169 was one of the last locomotives operating with the old ‘IR’ logo, a herald remarkably similar to the Portuguese Railways logo.

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This Day 9 Years Ago.

On December 12, 2011, I photographed Irish Rail 083 leading the down IWT passing Islandbridge Junction in Dublin. This was an unusually heavy train.

The locomotive was wearing the relatively short-lived silver, black & yellow livery introduced in 2007, and since vanished into history.

It has been 13 months since I last visited my favorite vantage point.

Exposed using a Canon EOS 7D with 18-135mm lens set at 38mm Canon zoom.

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NOVEMBER 4, 2019—Nearly ONE YEAR AGO.

How a year goes by! November 4th last year sticks in my mind as one of the best nights for rainy night photography in a very long time.

I’d caught up with fellow poor-weather nocturnal photographers, Jay Monaghan, Paul Maguire and Kevin O’Brien at Drumcondra in Dublin to catch the elusive Irish Rail ‘HOBS’ (ballast train) hauled by General Locomotives diesel 075.

It was cold and sluicing rain.

After catching the ballast passing Drumcondra station, we nipped across town by rail to Sandymount, where we waited in the rain for another shot.

Working with my Fujifilm XT1 I made these memorable images.

Now, armed with Iridient X-Transformer, I went back to last year’s success and re-interpreted some of my favorite images from that damp Irish evening, which now seems so distant.

Tracks in the rain at Drumcondra, Dublin.
Irish Rail 075 leads the HOBS at Drumcondra on November 4, 2019.
A DART suburban train pauses at Sandymount, Dublin.
Irish Rail’s HOBS against the backdrop of the Lansdowne Road stadium.
The low resonating road of the 12-645E3 diesel fading into the gloom concludes Irish Rail’s HOBS passage at Sandymount on the evening of November 4, 2019.

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[Note: my intent was to publish this on November 4, 2020, but when composing the post I accidentally posted it immediately. My efforts to reschedule the post had the net effect of disrupting the link. So I’ve reposted it this morning (Tuesday November 3).]

Cobh Branch October 2014

Working with my Canon EOS7D, on October 7, 2014, I made these photos of a Cobh-bound Irish Rail 2600-series railcar pausing at Rushbrook, Co. Cork.

Irish Rail’s Ken Fox was giving me a detailed tour of the line.

I made my first visit to the Cobh Branch in 1999. The same 2600-series railcars worked it then, but in a bright orange, black and white livery.

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Irish Rail 164 at Birdhill

On a misty April 2000 morning, Mark Hodge and I arrived at Birdhill, County Limerick to photograph the elusive Shale freight.

A bonus was catching the Nenagh Branch passenger train with steam-heated Cravens carriages running from Ballybrophy to Limerick behind Irish Rail 141-class number 164.

Although I have hundreds of photos of the General Motors Bo-Bo diesels working Irish Rail passenger trains, this was one of the few times I caught number 164 in service on a passenger train.

Exposed on Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) using a Nikon N90S.

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Irish Rail 204 and Mark3s

11 April, 2009 was a bright day in Ireland.

Irish Rail was in its final months of working 201-class diesels with hauled sets of Mark 3 carriages on regularly scheduled intercity trains.

Using a Canon EOS 3 loaded with Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO), I exposed this image of Irish Rail 204 racing down road near Sallins, County Kildare.

Scenes like this, once so common, were soon to be just a memory.

Word to the wise: Look around you. What changes may soon alter the everyday? Make your photos before it’s too late.

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Foggy Morning at Wellingtonbridge.

On the morning of 23 November 2004, I exposed this photo of a pair of Irish Rail bo-bos (class 141/181 General Motors diesels) shunting sugar beet wagons at Wellingtonbridge, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

This was a typical scene made a bit mystical by a thick layer of fog.

To accentuate the effect of the fog and compress the elements in the scene, I worked with a 180mm Nikkor prime telephoto lens fitted to a Nikon F3 camera.

My film choice of the day was Fujichrome Sensia II (ISO 100).

I scanned this slide yesterday using a Nikon Super Coolscan5000 digital scanner and processed the hi-res scan with Lightroom to scale the image for internet presentation and make minor adjustments in the color balance and contrast.

All is quiet at Wellingtonbridge today.

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Irish Rail Weedspraying Train at Limerick Check.

Between 2000 and 2007, I made more than 1,000 images of the Irish Rail weedspraying train on its annual campaign around the system.

In my early days focusing on this one of kind train (there have been many weed spraying trains, but this one was unique!), I aimed to catch it in unusual places.

On this day in April 2000, I was traveling with intrepid photographer Mark Hodge, and we drove cross-country from Tipperary to County Limerick to intercept the train on the then rarely-traveled Foynes Branch.

Later in the morning, I caught the train coming off the branch at Limerick Check.

The day was wet and dark, but I’m very glad I exposed these photos, despite the fact that over the coming years I made numerous sunny day views of the train.

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Stacumni Bridge This Day Five Years Ago!

Tight view of a 201 class EMD diesel.

On March 3, 2015, I made this view of 201-class 8209 in an interim paint scheme leading a down Irish Rail IWT Liner at Stacumni Bridge near Hazel Hatch in suburban Dublin.

I was working with my recently acquired FujiFilm XT1 and getting used to the peculiarities of this excellent image making tool.

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Old 204 at Enfield!

I like vague titles.

My Irish friends might wonder, since Irish Rail class 201 number 204 in unlikely to have ever reached Enfield, County Meath on the Sligo Line—although the older C-Class diesel with the same number probably did pass that point (before my time).

Amtrak F40PH-2 204 almost certainly passed Enfield, Connecticut on the former New Haven Railroad’s Springfield-New Haven Line, a route now described as the ‘Hartford Line’. While I have various photos in the 1980s of the 200-series F40PH-2s, it is unlikely that I have a photo of 204 at Enfield.

Then there’s an extremely remote possibility that I have a photo in my collection of a Boston & Albany 4-4-0 with that number passing Enfield, Massachusetts on the Athol Branch. I’ll have to review my B&A roster to confirm they actually had a locomotive with that number and if it ever ran up the branch.

So!

How about Guilford Rail System’s high-hood GP35 204 working the Maine Central with MABA at Enfield, Maine?

Regular Tracking the Light readers might understand my connections to this engine.

(It’s a sister locomotive to former Maine Central 216 that now resides at Conway Scenic where I now work.)

Too many ephemeral and tenuous connections?

Just wait, I could make signaling allusions!

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