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Irish Narrow Gauge Railways

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by lynbarn, May 27, 2016.

  1. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    The fate of the T&B seems to be, as much as anything, the result of a reluctance of the Local Authorities to sever their connection with those previously associated with the line in favour of giving another group a shot. I don't believe this situation to be anything as sinister as that may sound, merely the LA taking a 'better the devil you know' stance, in the absence of anyone or any group with both a business plan and (crucially) sufficient funding to implement it, without involving scarce public money. An attempt was made, by a new grouping a few years ago, to reopen the line, but it fell on stoney ground with the local powers that be.

    Practical issues include PW and a formation in desperate need of quite a bit of attention, then there are those ex-metre gauge carriages (one at least I understand to be in very poor condition), which are very heavy, and are the limiting factor in choice of motive power. Even if it gets the rebuild (and probably new boiler) it needs, surviving T&D No.5 is way short of ideal for regular operations (being too big and too hungry), though at least it's securely stored nowadays.

    There are a few surviving items of T&D stock, one carriage safely in the care of Michael, up at the beautiful C&L station at Dromod, which is more working museum than operational railway (very, very worth a detour, if you're in the area btw, as even the restored half mile gives a flavour of the Irish NG and the workshops are fascinating) but anyone familiar with the original stock will know it's not all that suitable for tourist operations (with an internal layout similar to, but not as good as the W&L 'Pickerings').

    For the line to reopen, first it'd need a viable vision, which in rural Ireland means a cost-effective means of getting bums on seats. Any grand historic recreation would need to see some convincing evidence that a market exists, before ploughing a fortune into the line. Recall, this is a line running a couple of miles from a station on the western outskirts of town to a windmill and Wetlands Centre, beyond which there's not an awful lot to entice visitors to do more than admire the scenery as they drive through it.

    It's by no means impossible to think the T&B will rise again, but it sure as hall ain't going to happen without some serious thought and investment.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
  2. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone have any news or information from Bushmills? Is there likely to be a revival of steam there anytime in the foreseeable future?
     
  3. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Highly unlikely. The Severn lamb diesel 'tram' now runs all services. I believe the railway's ultimate owner had unofficially put the locos up for sale a few years ago at around £100k each! Not surprisingly he hasn't had any interest.
     
  4. andrewshimmin

    andrewshimmin Well-Known Member

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    It's a great shame. After all those years keeping the flame going at Shane's Castle.
     
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  5. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Ditto the Tralee & Blennerville, which seems to have dropped off the radar completely.
     
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  6. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Along with the coaches they would make a good starting point for a new tourist railway, preferably somewhere in Ireland. However the unrealistic asking prices would tend to rule this out.
     
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  7. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    I think theres a number of factors involved with that project and the recent attempts at revival.
     
  8. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    As tourist locations go, they don't come much better than The Giant's Causeway.
     
  9. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    Agreed. In an ideal world the locos and carriages would be reinstated and the railway changed to a volunteer heritage railway. Doesn't seem likely to happen though.☹
     
  10. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Perhaps, though one of the defining features of the original line was electric operation. It only lost it's claim to being the "first electric railway in these islands" (by six weeks) to Magnus Volk, down my way, due to an engineering overrun.

    Bushmills, be it noted, is home to a certain fine, world-famous whiskey distillery.
     
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  11. Seraphim

    Seraphim New Member

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    Went to Giant's Causeway & Bushmills in 2019. Sadly, not impressed. The line was extremely overgrown and the station at Bushmills could have been mistaken for abandoned. The railcars are showing their age. Brighter spot was that the staff were very friendly and happy to show me the steam locos. The main business seems to be providing parking for the Causeway slightly cheaper than the National Trust. It is probably the single best location for a tourist line on the island of Ireland.
     
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  12. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    You're not wrong there. AIUI, the main one revolves around the investment needed to get the line operable once more. No surprise there.

    Though neither is now in good order, one of the two, very heavy, ex-EFE* bogie carriages has suffered from extensive vandalism and ex-T&D loco No.5, which isn't best suited to economical operations on light trains over a couple of miles of fairly flat track, is currently dismantled (though at least under cover) and in need of extensive repairs, not least to it's boiler.

    Add to that the line's most recent operator still being "preferred" by the local authority (think 'council contracts' here ..... you get the picture!), thus effectively shutting the door on anyone else doing anything.

    The T&B, with it's eastern terminal on the opposite side of Tralee from the CIÉ station (the last Km is lost to redevelopment), isn't in a location likely to attract much by way of 'passing custom', with the attractions at the western end being Blennerville windmill and a wetland nature reserve.

    Most of those capable of doing something to reopen the line have been put off by official intransigence and decamped to the Stradbally Woodland Railway (https://stradballyrailway.webs.com/locomotives.htm ). Those unfamiliar with Ireland may not fully appreciate the dearth of not just folk to run a line, but the sparsity of potential custom. The only way I see of services being resumed is by someone finding a formula to make commercial operation a realistic proposition, as per the Waterford & Suir Valley.

    Giant's Causeway is another kettle of fish entirely. The coastline of Co.Antrim is stunning and popular with locals and tourists alike. The current line, which doesn't cover the complete course of it's predecessor, could be run successfully and is a far better prospect. If it were my call, I'd be moving heaven and earth to restore the full route. Given the nature of likely custom, I'm afraid I'd not be looking at steam operation (it's a severely limited market, which would be all too easy to saturate). No siree .... the Causeway line should be readily marketable on its own.

    *The Spanish narrow gauge operator. They're converted from metre gauge.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2021
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  13. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    And yet, when it *did* operate it appeared to be quite busy, even towards the end when it used a hired-in BNM diesel loco.

    There is plenty of passing trade at Blennerville as it is on the ‘Ring of Kerry’ driving circuit. Even with the railway closed, we have stopped off there to visit the windmill and/or pub/restaurant on a couple of occasions.

    (In my utopian dreamworld it would be extended beyond Blennerville, but I would have to agree that that would seem vanishingly unlikely.)


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  14. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    The 'Ring of Kerry' is indeed popular, not too hard to see why! Busy, I guess, is a fairly maleable term. Were the line sufficiently well patronised to provide even a half-dozen P/T summer jobs, funding would most likely have been forthcoming. I submit the present sad state of things tells it's own tale.

    Pray tell, would your utopian vision involve turning left at Castlegregory Jnc. or heading round the bay (both is being greedy!)? I'm told that Castlegregory itself is no longer the local magnet it was in days of yore. Perhaps the railway could change that, but it'd cost some to find out.
     
  15. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Member

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    Left would be better; right would be more achievable and arguably more sensible, but neither option is especially sensible.
     
  16. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    .... or remotely likely, worst luck! :(
     
  17. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    I'd have thought - and I don't know what the problems on the ground are - that Tralee to Castlegregory could be operated reasonably economically and might attract grant aid. Whereas running over the mountains would cost a bomb.

    There simply isn't the interest in Ireland to sustain an operation like the Festiniog, but a fairly gentle few miles along a picturesque coast in an area that does have a tourism draw might not be entirely beyond the bounds of possibility.

    I don't think proximity to the main line station at the Tralee end matters - only us nutters would go there by train just to travel on the T&B (my wife and i did just that when it was open - I have pictures)
     
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  18. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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  19. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    I don't have the distance to hand but you are talking about a fairly long section. I think the current section might be viable with volunteers if the council permitted it, anything beyond that would need to be commercial and I don't think the numbers would add up. It's a persistent problem in Irish preservation - the population is too sparsely distributed to make most (volunteer) railways viable.
     
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  20. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Having just looked at the Wiki article, I think you'd be looking at 15 miles or so, end to end. That strikes me as reasonably ambitious for anywhere, even without the population sparsity of the area - and with Castlegregory having a truly metropolitan population of 250, sparsity would seem to be the word.
     
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