Ireland day 0221. Saturday 07 May 2022- Inchicore

Ireland day 0221. Saturday 07 May 2022- Inchicore
Today’s summary Spent the afternoon in the Inchicore Rail works, for a one-in-25-year open day. Fantastic day out with all the main Iarnród Éireann loco types on display.   Val got me the ticket but was sadly unable to go as she was at work!
Today’s weather Dry, mild and some sun.   About 15C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of my route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where I walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Inchicore rail works

It’s not every day that you get the chance to go round a country’s largest rail maintenance depot, and to spend a whole day in the close up company of magnificent diesel locomotives. In fact there won’t be another chance for 24 years as Iarnrod Eireann won’t be opening up its Inchicore depot again until its 200th anniversary, in 2046.

It was by a stroke of good fortune that I was able to visit the site today on its 175th birthday – and all thanks to Val. As a rail insider now, through her job at the museum, the bush telegraph had signalled that this once-in-a-generation event was going to be held today, and managed to get me a ticket. Apparently it was only advertised very locally to housing estates adjoining the the depot and tickets were hard to find. The irony was that because of her shift rota, Val was working today so sadly unable to attend. So I was the only Dawson representative.

Inchicore is the biggest rail maintenance depot in Ireland and almost all the diesel fleet is maintained there – as well as the DART electrics. It’s located in southwest Dublin – just across the Liffey from Phoenix Park in the suburb of (unsurprisingly) Inchicore. It was founded in 1846 and the open day today was commemorating its 175th anniversary (delayed a year by the pandemic). It’s a vast site and around the turn of the century employed over 1500. Today it’s still a big employer but staff numbers have fallen to about 500. A lot of the houses around the site were built by the railway company to house the workers – they are smart and presumably highly sought after nowadays. Very progressive in a Port Sunlight-ish sort of way.

After yesterdays heavy rain, I was a bit hesitant about committing to a day spent wandering around a potentially rain- and wind-swept railway yard but as it happened, the weather today was perfect for a rail inspection outing. Mild and spring-like, with even a glimmer of sun and no rain.

It was a privilege to be there today. Iarnród Éireann really had pulled all the stops out to organise a fantastic day, and I was amazed by how much of the site had been opened up. Almost nowhere was off limits, and as well as lots of information displays and plenty of well-informed staff on hand to answer questions, you could wander freely amongst all the locos, bogies and generators that were currently in the depot for maintenance.

I think pretty much all types of loco were on display today, and I can probably just about tell a class 71 from a mark 4, or a type 201 now. The depot also maintains the DART electrics which is curious as the line to the depot isn’t electrified and it doesn’t sit anywhere near the east cost line where the DART operates. In fact, Inchicore is on the mainline from Heuston to Cork but there is a little-used connector line which runs from Heuston to Connolly station on the east coast line. To get round the electrification problem, DART trains are dragged by a diesel loco – often a class 71 – from Connolly round the loop to Heuston. There’s a slip off the Cork line into the depot near the Landen Rd.

One project that is being developed at Inchicore is a part-electrification of the diesel multiple units that run from Connolly to Drogheda. At the moment, the diesels run into Connolly, which is the end of the line, and sit there with engines running full-tilt until they are ready to turn around and leave again. They need to do this to keep the heating and electrical systems operating but it’s noisy, fumy and wastes fuel. The solution being investigated is new bogies with generators attached, which will charge batteries and once the trains approach Connolly, the diesels will turn off and the batteries will power the trains the last few metres into the station, and keep the systems operating until it is ready to leave again. The new battery bogies are built by Rolls Royce and are under test now.

I learnt all about this by talking to a young engineer who is working on the batteryisation project. Particularly interesting to me was the fact that Iarnród Éireann are working closely with Chiltern Railways in the UK, who are introducing the same system into the diesels that run on the Aylesbury line into Marylebone station (which, spookily, is an almost carbon copy of Connolly).

Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the centrepiece – Merlin – sitting resplendent in blue on the turntable in the middle of the yard. We already met Merlín when he came storming through Malahide a couple of weeks ago and there’s not a lot more to say. Except what a wonderful 4-4-0 three cylinder loco he is.

Wow! What a day. After a brief pause in proceedings to eat my sandwiches and grab a coffee from my special trainspotter thermos, I made my way down to the Luas stop for the stately journey back to Malahide. It’s a pity the Heuston-Connolly connector line isn’t open as it would certainly speed things up a bit. Well, maybe it will be by the time we come back in 2046 for the 200th anniversary. Let’s see.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Fabulous view.   From the left – Class 201, Mark 4 class, Class 201 (different livery), Class 71 The Inchicore “citadel” tower, alongside the main Heuston to Cork line, which runs right past the Works
This looks like a wheel turning lathe but actually according to the sign it’s a “Wheel Press”.   Not sure what one of those is, actually, but it keeps the bogies running properly Every mechanical engineer’s dream!
Now this isn’t a view you get very often!   Wow! (By the way eighteen of these Type 71s were bought from General Motors in the US in 1976. All of them are still in service today, 46 years later, and they are expected to last another decade, at least). The Rolls-Royce built generator bogies being prepared for trial.   They will be used to reduce diesel pollution and improve fuel consumption on the Connolly to Drogheda diesel multiple units
Merlin!   Need I say more?
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 6805 m
Max elevation: 35 m
Min elevation: 30 m
Total climbing: 53 m
Total descent: -51 m
Total time: 02:34:02
Download file: Inchicore corrected.gpx

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