Years ago among the treats of Friday freight operations in Ireland were the extra moves. One of my favorites was Friday’s Dublin-Waterford Norfolk liner, which tended to get unusual locomotives and operated down-road midday.
On this day, the train had been held in Kildare during a spell of bright sunshine, but when it finally got the signal to proceed down-road clouds dimmed the scene.
Working with a Nikon N90s and a borrowed 300mm lens I exposed this Fujichrome Sensia II (100 ISO) slide of Irish Rail 129 leading the Norfolk liner through the crossovers west of Kildare station. This was way back in May 2001—18 years ago!
On 6 April 2019, I was working with a 1980s-vintage Nikon F3HP fitted with an even older Nikkor 24mm lens to expose this view of Irish Rail 219 in ‘push-mode’ at the back of Dublin-bound Mark4 set at Kildare
This slide was among the photographs I exposed on Fujichrome Provia 100F on an excursion to Kildare with Paul Maguire and Jay Monaghan to photograph the Waterford-Portlaoise Saturday steel train (seen in the distance at Kildare station).
I digitized the slide using an Epson Perfection V750 flatbed scanner and imported the TIF file into Lightroom for final adjustment and outputted a scaled JPG for presentation here.
Several weeks ago on Tracking the Light I published a digital view of this same train, exposed moments after I made this slide.
In the summer of 1999, I was standing on the footbridge at Kildare station where I focused on Irish Rail 225 leading Mark3 carriages as it approached at speed.
My first Nikon N90S was loaded with Ilford HP5 and fitted with an old Tokina 400mm fixed focal length telephoto.
The train was common; my photograph was unusual. Working with extreme telephoto compression, I’ve framed the train in the arch of road-bridge, which has the effect of accentuating the pattern of the crossovers east of the bridge.
I recall the piercing Doppler squashed screech of 225’s horn as it neared the platforms, warning passengers to stand back.
The memory of that sound and the following rush of air as the train raced past puts me back in that place in time nearly 20 years gone. I know too well how I was feeling at the time. Strange how one photograph of a train can summon such memories and feelings.
It’s the elusive 202, found lurking in my archives!
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.
I have many hundreds of photos of the 201s in action, hauling passenger and freight trains all over the Irish Rail network.
Some locomotives were common; I must have a hundred photos of class leader 201 on the roll. And every time I turned around, I seem to find 215 leading a train. Actually, I still do! Old 215 is among the 201-class still on the move, albeit in the modern green and silver paint instead of classic orange, yellow and black.
Of the 35 201s, I found that engine 202 was by far the most elusive. A few years ago when scouring my vast collection of more than 15,000 colour slides picturing Irish Rail, I located just three images of 202.
One was from the window of a Mark 3 carriage at Roscommon, one was an image at Limerick Junction of Bo-Bo 176 towing 202 with flat wheels up-road, and the best of the lot was a rainy day image of 202 with a Tralee-Mallow-Cork service near Rathmore, County Cork.
How 202 so thoroughly eluded me during this period baffles me.
Anyway, the other day I was scanning some previously unprinted 120-size black & white negatives, when I found this view of 202 working down-road at Kildare with Irish Rail’s Mark 2 Airbrake carriages. (Which were withdrawn from active service shortly after this photo was exposed).
There are some other rare images on this roll, but this for me is the rarest!
I’ll need to locate the colour slides from that day and see what I find.
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).
It’s become a tradition to visit Kildare on Good Friday. This day has a history of seeing a good number of freights as well as passenger trains.
Kildare offers a good place to photograph freights running between Waterford and Ballina, since trains need to reverse direction here owing to the lack of a direct connection in the westward direction at Cherryville Junction.
On Good Friday, April 3, 2015, there was the added bonus of a locomotive exchange for the laden timber. Locomotive 071 (the class leader) had come down from Inchicore in Dublin and waited for the arrival of the timber from Ballina (with engine 078).
Although the weather wasn’t the best, I had ample opportunity for photographs. All of these images were exposed between 10:48 and 12:08 am using my Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Tomorrow: Good Friday highlight, a freshly painted locomotive in freight service at Cherryville Junction.
Irish Rail’s timber is elusive enough, so far as I’m concerned. It only operates two or three days a week, and often seems to get canceled when I’m out for it.
The weather was mixed; a bit of rain in the morning, a few bursts of sun in the afternoon. In other words, a typical May day in Ireland, if a bit on the cold side. The foliage was lush and green.
The down IWT liner (Dublin-Ballina) ran later than I anticipated, while the up IWT was more or less as expected.
Timber trains made their appearance as hoped. Since the timber must run around at Kildare station to change direction (it runs from Waterford to county Mayo, and there’s no direct chord at Cherryville Junction to facilitate a move for trains moving from the Waterford Line to the West), this allows opportunity to catch the timber train twice.
All in all, it was a productive day photographically.
Since most of Irish Rail’s passenger services are now provided by common 22000 series Rotem-built InterCity Railcars (ICRs), I’ve only included at few of the many passenger trains that passed that day.