The Anonymous Widower

Does Dublin Have A Gauge Problem?

Dublin’s Rail Systems

Dublin has three rail systems.

Luas

The Luas is Dublin’s modern tram and before the end of the year, will have two lines.

They will cross conveniently in the City Centre.

The gauge is standard gauge and all services are powered by 750 VDC overhead electrification

DART

The DART is Dublin’s commuter railway.

The gauge is Irish gauge and all services are powered by 1500 VDC overhead electrification.

Irish National Rail System

Long-distance services come into the two main stations; Connolly and Heuston.

The gauge is Irish gauge and all services are diesel-powered.

The two main stations are connected by the Green Line of the Luas.

Summing Up

Dublin seems to have drawn a short straw with tracks of two different gauges and two different electrification systems.

At least both electrification are DC overhead systems, so it wouldn’t be too difficult for a tram to work on both systems.

Tram-Trains On Dublin’s Rail System

If you look at cities and towns around the world, which have both tram and heavy rail systems, there is an increasing trend to use a common rail vehicle called a tram-train.

The German city of Karlsruhe has an extensive tram-train network and the UK is running a trial in Sheffield using a Class 399 tram-train.

On my trip to Dublin, I took the local suburban train from Heuston station to Kildate to see old friends.

Looking at the layout of Heuston station, it would be fairly easy create a connection between the Red Line of the Luas and the lines out of Heuston station.

It would be slightly more difficult at Connolly station, but not impossible.

In an ideal world, you could imagine a tram-train arriving at Heuston station taking to the Red Line and then travewlling on a service out of Connolly station.

It’s almost as it the route of the Red Line was chosen to9 make this possible.

But there is one major problem. Dublin’s trams are a different gauge to their heavy rail lines.

New Trains On The DART

The DART trains are not all that new and are only a few miles per hour faster than the Luas trams.

This is said in a section called Future Fleet in the Wikipedia entry for the DART.

In October 2008, Iarnród Éireann announced plans for a massive expansion of the DART fleet, with a €900 million order for a total of 432 individual EMU cars for delivery between 2011–2012. Due to the economic downturn this delivery was put on hold.

Would it be more affordable to buy off-the-shelf standard gauge trains, rather than special ones built to the Irish gauge?

I also suspect that if the DART lines were standard gauge, then it might be possible to use the same Citadis trams as on the Luas.

On the other hand there are Citadis trams built for Moscow that have the five foot Russian gauge. So could they be widened the extra three inches?

New Lines On The DART

This is said in a section called Future in the Wikipedia entry for the DART.

Plans have been laid out to expand the DART network beyond the coastal main line and provide service to the north and west of the city. Part of this expansion was to consist of a purpose built tunnel linking the Docklands Station at Spencer Dock in the city’s quays and Heuston Station This tunnel, termed DART Underground, included plans for services from Celbridge/Hazelhatch to the Docklands via St. Stephen’s Green. To accommodate this change, the plans called for the existing line to be realigned to run from Greystones in the south to Maynooth with the electrification of the Connolly to Maynooth line. An interchange at Pearse Street was to connect the proposed lines. The DART Underground project was however, put on indefinite hold in September 2015. The plans for expanded services remain in place[citation needed] and are being redesigned pending the release of funding.

New lines will need more trains.

Commonsense says that Dublin will have a comprehensive plan.

Conclusion

There are various ways to organise a particular number of trains for an efficient service.

 

December 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Dublin’s Trams

Dublin’s trams are called the LUAS and the consist of two lines; the Green and the Red.

Currently, there are two upgrades taking place.

  • The Green Line is being extended so there is an interchange with the Red in the centre of the City.
  • New six-segment articulated trams are being added to the system.

I was told that the extended Green Line will be running in a couple of weeks.

These are some or the pictures I took.

Note that I bought a €7.20 day ticket to use the trams.

I feel that the new layout with the Red and Green Lines crossing at the junction of O’Connell and Abbey Streets is good.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note that O’Connell Street links up with the widest bridge, where the Green Line will cross the Liffey going North.

Going South the tram uses the next bridge to the East, which I think is newly-built.

I think that it would be prudent, if you stayed at a hotel in Dublin, to choose one on either tram line.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Belfast To Dublin By Train

I took the 08:00 train between Belfast and Dublin.

All went fairly well and the train arrived into Dublin Connolly station on time.

But information about travel to my hotel near St. Stephen’s Green was non-existent.

So I walked and got lost several times. Where were the maps?

At least in a couple of weeks, the journey will be possible using the trams with a change between the Red and Green Lines.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!

I am an engineer and therefor tend to favour practical solutions, that are often radical.

The Brexit negotiations are at an impasse over how you deal with the Northern Irish-Irish Republic border.

We only have to look back to the Second World War, where smuggling was rife between a neutral Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

I believe there is no way to enforce border rules without a border wall in the style of Donald Trump.

That would be unacceptable to probably everyone in the island of Ireland! And probably almost 100 % of the citizens of the UK!

Joint British And Irish Long-Term Objectives

We can sum these up the objectives of the British and Irish people for the island of Ireland like this.

  • Prosperous economies.
  • Full employment
  • Friendly relations at all levels
  • A well-maintained And thriving environment
  • The final end to The Troubles.

The governments involved don’t always seem to follow sensible routes, that will help in these and other similar objectives.

An Anglo-Irish Fixed Link

I don’t think anybody, except possibly some ferry companies and airlines, would disagree with the fact that the Channel Tunnel has been a success.

Although, I would say that services through the tunnel have been slow to develop.

So surely, one way to improve the economy of the whoile of the island of Ireland would be to create a fixed link across the Irish Sea.

Wikipedia has a section entitled British Isles Fixed Sea Link Connections.

It lists four possibilities for fixed links between Great Britain and Ireland.

  1. North Channel (Kintyre) Route
  2. North Channel (Galloway) Route
  3. Irish Mail Route
  4. Tuskar Route

Some are more practical than others.

Political Considerations

Post Brexit, I don’t believe that any UK Government would want to contribute any money to a fixed link between Wales and the Irish Republic.

I also feel, that the Irish Government and the EU wouldn’t want to contribute to a fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But I do believe that the EU could be persuaded to provide funding to create a high speed rail link between say Belfast, Dublin and Cork.

Practicality

Route 1 is the shortest at just 19 km, whereas routes 3 and 4 are the longest at 100 km.

Route 1 unfortunately, is the only route without a rail connection on the Great Britain side. Any rail link to the main UK rail network would be a challenging undertaking and probably go through environmentally-sensitive areas

The North Channel (Galloway) Route

I believe that the North Channel (Galloway) Route, is the only route that stands a chance of getting built.

Wikipedia says this about the link.

This route has been proposed variously as either a tunnel or a bridge. A 2007 report by the Centre for Cross Border Studies estimated building a bridge from Galloway to Ulster would cost just under £3.5 billion. The proposal would see passengers board trains in Glasgow then cross the bridge via Stranraer and alight in Belfast or Dublin. A longer bridge already exists between Shanghai and Ningbo in east China. Some political parties in Northern Ireland have included the bridge in their manifesto for some time. However, because of the Beaufort’s Dyke sea trench, this route would be deeper than the southern routes. The sea trench was also used for dumping munitions after World War II and so would require an expensive clean up operation. Ronnie Hunter, former chairman of the Institute of Civil Engineers Scotland, suggested that the project was a “stretch but doable”. He cited the lack of “soft rock, the chalk and sandstone” as a challenge compared to the construction of the Channel Tunnel. He also suggested that the change in rail gauge between Ireland and Britain might pose further concerns.

These problems must be solved.

Bridge Or Tunnel?

Having been across the Oresund Bridge, I believe that Civil Engineers could find a solution to crossing between Stranraer and Northern Ireland.

The crossing would be in excess of thirty kilometres long. But look at Wikipedia’s list of longest bridges and there are several a lot longer, including this 164.8 km. monster; Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge, which carries the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway along the Yangtze River.

Beaufort’s Dyke

The Oresund Bridge is part-bridge and part-tunnel and this was obviously a good solution to crossing the Oresund strait.

I believe that mixing various types of crossing could solve the Beaufort’s Dyke problem and provide an affordable solution to the crossing.

Rail Connection In Scotland

The Glasgow South Western Line finishes at Stranraer station and could surely be extended to the crossing.

Electrification would probably be recommended.

Rail Connection To England

Intriguingly, there used to be a railway route from Stanraer to Carlisle via New Galloway, Castle Douglas and Dumfries.

When HS2 opens to Crewe in 2027, I believe that high speed trains could possibly break the four hour barrier between Euston and Belfast.

An electrified route between Carlisle and the crossing would be needed.

Rail Connection In Northern Ireland

This Google Map shows the location of Belfast Central station in the city.

Note.

  • The station is on East Bridge Street in the bend of the River Lagon
  • The lines crossing the river and then splitting to go East and North West.
  • The lines going South from the station towards Dublin.

It would appear to be very convenient.

It would be ideal if trains could come across from Scotland, stop in Belfast Central station and then continue to Dublin’

The Variable Gauge Problem

UK railways and nearly all of Europe’s high speed lines use standard gauge tracks and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

NI Railways use Irish gauge tracks and are diesel powered.

In an ideal world, trains from Glasgow and Carlisle would be electric trains for environmental reasons and I suspect, that diesel wouldn’t be welcomed in any undersea tunnels.

So this would mean one of the following.

  1. Passengers would have to change trains on arriving in or leaving Northern Ireland.
  2. A new electrified standard-gauge line would have to built to Belfast Central station.
  3. A fleet of bi-mode variable-gauge trains would have to be acquired.

Or alternatively, a high-speed electrified standard-gauge line to European standards could be built between the crossing and Dublin, with these characteristics.

  • Twin-track capable of at least 125 mph running.
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • ERTMS signalling
  • European GC loading gauge.
  • An interchange station with Belfast’s local network.
  • A station to load car and truck shuttles as used on the Channel Tunnel.
  • Freight terminals as required.

This would certainly allow the following.

  • Direct electric services between Dublin and Glasgow via Belfast.
  • Direct electric freight services between Ireland and Great Britain.
  • Sleeper services between London and Ireland

After HS2 opens to Crewe in 2027, the following services would be possible, without changing trains.

  • Euston to Belfast in under four hours.
  • Euston to Dublin in under five hours.
  • A faster and more frequent service between the two parts of Ireland.

Addition of electrified branches to other important cities would be possible in the future.

So How Does It Solve The Irish Problem?

It would need a lot of development to truly be acceptable to the EU and the UK and the Irish governments!

But for a start a fixed rail link must improve the economies of the island of Ireland.

This in itself would surely mean that the two governments would work more together for their common good.

I also believe that it would be easier to develop an electronic border, if most of the freight ran between the two islands on rail.

Conclusion

I think we should develop the rail link, even if at the last minute, Brexit gets abandoned.

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments