Enterprise Train at Belfast Central Station http://www.seat61.com

The refurbished Enterprise train was taken off the Belfast to Dublin service owing to safety concerns about its doors. The doors are reported to have opened on two occasions when the cross-border train was still moving.

The first of the newly-refurbished Enterprise fleet went into service on the Belfast to Dublin line in November. The £12.2m upgrade programme included an extensive safety approval process but issues around the doors saw the first train removed from service.

Update: On Wednesday (13th January) Translink said a detailed technical investigation and review of the door mechanisms by its engineering team, specialist door contractors and the train door manufacturer had been carried out and the train was now back in service.

Ian Campbell, General Manager, Engineering with Translink explained: “When these incidents occurred, all the appropriate safety and operational procedures were carried out. We immediately addressed the issue, removed the train from service and reported the event to the relevant safety authorities.  “We would strongly reassure our passengers and the wider public that there was no imminent danger for our customers travelling on board as a result of these two unrelated door faults.”

In light of the door faults, the Railway Safety Commission had banned the trains from operating in the Republic. Translink said it had satisfied the Irish rail authority’s concerns and the upgraded train would be returned into service.

“We will continue to collaborate with the Railway Safety Commission as we work to bring this significant Enterprise train refurbishment programme to fruition which will ultimately provide a much enhanced quality of service to passengers travelling on this important cross border route,” they concluded. The RSC said it had finished a review of evidence submitted by NI Railways and was satisfied that the circumstances which gave rise to the prohibition notice had been remedied.

A news release in September 2015 from the Special EU Programmes Body said the first newly refurbished Enterprise train had entered the ‘testing and commissioning phase’ of Translink NI Railways’ train upgrade programme which has received £12.2 million funding from the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme. The major service overhaul will improve the cross-border rail experience for customers travelling between Belfast and Dublin as well as ensure the long-term reliability of the service for the next 10 years.

The refurbishment programme has been financed through the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) with support from the Department of Regional Development and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) in Ireland.

Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, said: “The project continues to progress well as we enter this important ‘testing and commissioning’ phase in which this first fully refurbished train will be checked to ensure it complies with all necessary safety regulations and technical specifications. This will include ‘on-track’ testing of important new features such as passenger information systems, seat reservation systems and CCTV, as well as ensuring the reliability of all the train’s management systems.”

“Following successful completion of this important project phase and all necessary safety approvals, the first train can then be introduced into passenger service so that our customers can enjoy an all-new Enterprise journey experience with an emphasis on comfort, service and value. We would like to thank the European Union, Department for Regional Development and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland for essential funding to deliver this project.”

“We would also like to thank our customers for their continued patience and support as we work hard to complete this major rail project. We look forward to welcoming them on board their new Enterprise service and delivering passenger growth on this important route,” said Chris.

Paul Boylan, Programme Manager at the SEUPB which manages the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme, said: “Developing cross-border transport infrastructure is a key facet in the INTERREG IVA Programme, which aims to enhance co-operation for a more sustainable cross-border region. The improvements being implemented by the Translink NI Railways train upgrade programme will bring a wide range of social and economic benefits to people living and working along the Belfast – Dublin rail corridor and we look forward to the programme’s successful completion.”

On November 17th the first refurbished Enterprise set made the journey between Belfast Central station and Dublin Connolly, passing through Newry.


NI Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen MLA and Chris Conway, Group Chief Executive for Translink chat with customer Edna Murray from Belfast as the newly refurbished Enterprise train left Belfast for Dublin in November

Transport Minister, Michelle McIlveen said: “The Northern Ireland Executive has invested significantly in railways and trains over the last decade with 43 new trains at a cost of around £200million in total. This has resulted in a tremendous growth in passenger numbers with a doubling of rail passengers in the last decade. Last year alone nearly 13.5million rail journeys were made in Northern Ireland.”

“I am confident that this major improvement in the Enterprise trains will encourage even more growth in rail passengers along this key strategic rail link.”

Welcoming the launch, (then) Finance Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Enterprise service between Belfast and Dublin provides an important infrastructure link for passengers travelling between the two cities. This delivery of this project, supported under the EU’s INTERREG IVA programme, will deliver social and economic benefits for citizens in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which will in turn contribute to economic growth and prosperity.”

Speaking at Belfast Central Station ahead of the train’s departure to Dublin Connolly Station, Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said: “This is great news for our customers. The service looks and feels like a modern new train with the emphasis on comfort, service and value.”

“Customers will first notice the train’s striking modern new look with a stylish purple, red and grey livery. Stepping on board, the transformation is incredible with vibrant, eye-catching new colour schemes, attractive seating with power sockets, plush carpets, new tables and lighting. Once all trains are completed we will also have our new electronic seat reservation displays operating.”


View of beach near Gormanston Co.Meath from train window Photo: © Michael Fisher

View of beach near Gormanston Co.Meath from train window Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was a beautiful morning for a journey and no better way to travel than by train. A great opportunity to see the sunrise over the sea as the train passed along the coast just after Gormanston in County Meath. My thirteen hour odyssey began at Newry station in County Armagh (it’s closer to Bessbrook!) with the departure of the 06:45 Iarnród Eireann commuter train to Dublin Connolly, a train that goes as far as Bray. Try planning a journey to Dundalk on the Translink website and you won’t find this particular service. It picks up at various stops as far as Donabate, by which time it’s a case of standing room only, then runs non-stop to Connolly. On arrival the place was buzzing with the sound of music, including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Miriam O'Callaghan prepares to go on air with The John Murray Show at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

Miriam O’Callaghan prepares to go on air with The John Murray Show at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

A great start to the Big Music Week at Connolly Station with an hour long John Murray Show presented by Miriam O’Callaghan. Among the crowd (some of whom had joined the music train at Bray) was RTÉ’s Director General Noel Curran. Although he comes from a county (Monaghan) where the railway lines were dismantled over fifty years ago, he still has a love of trains having made the journey many times between Dublin and Dundalk, where I was writing this as I headed back to Newry on the Enterprise.

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly Station

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly Station Photo: Michael Fisher

The hour-long show at Connolly finished with the Artane Boys Band. The BIG MUSIC WEEK entourage then boarded the special three-carriage Iarnród Éireann train to Newbridge for the next stage of the proceedings.

Entertained on the Music Train by the Bugle Babes Photo: RTÉ ten

Entertained on the Music Train by the Bugle Babes Photo: RTÉ ten

On board we were entertained by the Chattanooga Choo Choo from the Bugle Babes. Other stars  travelling included the Northern duo of Paul Brady from Strabane and Bronagh Gallagher from Derry, who made a special mention of Eamonn McCann when she sang Midnight Train to Georgia for Miriam, a broadcast that went out simultaneously on 2FM and Lyric FM.

Bronagh Gallagher on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bronagh Gallagher on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christy Moore joined the fun at the Patrician Seconday School at Newbridge in County Kildare. After a three hour stop that included a parade along the mmain street of the town led by the Army No.1 Band, it was time to head for the next stop in Carlow. More performances on the train and then in the station car park where Tullow native Selina O’ Leary was among the entertainers. After that the Music Train headed to Waterford for a concert at the Theatre Royal, a benefit gig in aid of Barnardos for whom collections were made along the way. The broadcast schedule for tomorrow, Tuesday 1st October, and other information can be found on the RTÉ Big Music Week (in association with Iarnród Eireann) website here.

9:30, 12:35 & 16:10 RTÉjr The Beo Show This Big Music Week join stage manager Donie and wardrobe lady Gerty Gúna  as they prepare the Beo Theatre for children from across the country Various
10:00 & 14:35 RTÉjr Hubble Hubble is going musical so watch and listen as Emma and Ogié discover a musical world full of fun and interesting sounds. Various
16:00 RTÉ Two elev8 Follow Diana Bunici’s progress as she picks up the guitar for the first time with the promise of a performance by the end of the week. Various
17:30 RTÉ Two Two Tube Throughout RTÉ Big Music Week Two Tube will be  on a quest to find the next big music act, as well as bringing great interviews from well-known Irish talent. Various
20:00 RTÉ Radio 1 The John Creedon Show For day two of RTÉ Big Music Week, John Creedon presents a live performance from Killarney’s INEC, featuring John Spillane, Ger Wolfe, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, I Draw Slow & others. John Spillane, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, I Draw Slow & others.


Train loco on fire: Photo PSNI Newry & Mourne via facebook

Train loco on fire: Photo PSNI Newry & Mourne via facebook

I have a lot of sympathy for the train passengers whose journey from Belfast to Dublin last night was disrupted by a fire on board a locomotive at the tail end (from what I see in the picture) of the 18:05 Enterprise service from Central station to Connolly. Reports of the incident carried by BBC News and other outlets say there were 114 passengers on board the train when the driver (presumably at the other end) realised there was a problem in the engine compartment. He was forced to bring the train to a halt at the former Goraghwood station in County Armagh, a few miles from Newry.

Goraghwood Station on the GNR Enterprise service: Photo Wilson Adams: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Goraghwood Station GNR Enterprise service: Photo Wilson Adams: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Goraghwood station was closed in 1965. It used to be the stop for the customs check by HM Customs & Excise, although the process was speeded up for train passengers from 1947 when customs checks were added at Great Victoria Street station in Belfast and Amiens Street station in Dublin. A General Order issued by Customs in London in 1923 following partition and the creation of a land boundary noted as follows:-

*Note. ____  There are three Customs Stations on the G.N.R. Main Line in Northern Ireland, viz.: Goraghwood, Portadown and Belfast. Trucks from the Free State for Railway Stations short of Portadown will be cleared at Goraghwood; all others for any stations short of Belfast, at Portadown; and trucks for Belfast, at Belfast. Passengers will be dealt with at Goraghwood or at Portadown, according to which is the first scheduled stop at each train.

A former customs man, Ronald, remembers his time on duty there:-

“The main railway line between Belfast and Dublin passed through the Border Railway Station at Goraghwood in Newry.  The Daily Express Trains, ‘The Enterprise’ stopped at Goraghwood for Customs Clearance, a staff of LPM’s  boarding the trains and obtaining declarations from the passengers, any Revenue payments being called for by the Preventive Officer in attendance. Bars on board the Dublin/Belfast services were sealed after declaration by the Catering Staff. Secondly, the Guinness Supply Train en route from Dublin to Belfast, stopped at Goraghwood every night with its load, which was examined, samples being taken by the Officer i/c for submission to the Government Chemist“. HM-Customs-Waterguard-L Archives 19 NOV 2007 

I wonder did they ever get a chance to sample any of it themselves!

However it was not a customs check that stopped the main rail service between the two cities last night but rather the problem of an engine fire. A few observations about the incident. I have not used the Enterprise service in recent times, preferring instead to go by car on the new motorway. A journey from South Belfast to South Dublin can now be done in under two hours. The train runs eight times daily (Monday to Saturday) with a reduced service on Sundays between the cities but often with stops, which means the journey from city centre to city centre usually takes two hours and ten minutes. The Aircoach service goes from Great Victoria Street (Glengall Street) to O’Connell Street in Dublin in the same time and is generally cheaper, as is the frequent Translink/Bus Éireann express service. So the cost and the road have played a major part in the reduction of passenger numbers on the Enterprise, which were also reduced at the time the viaduct at the Malahide estuary partially collapsed in August 2009 and was closed for three months for repairs.


Enterprise Train at Lisburn: Photo © Michael Fisher

My recent contact with the Enterprise has been sightings of one of the trains in various locations. I noticed it going through Adelaide station in Belfast, with black smoke coming from the exhaust and I thought it was not very environmentally friendly. I saw it in Lisburn station heading for Belfast at the time I was going to the Balmoral Show last month and I got a picture of it. A few days ago as I headed on the A1 to Dublin outside Newry, I noticed the Belfast-bound train going across the Craigmore viaduct near the station at Bessbrook. The first thing that came to mind was how dirty the front engine looked and that it was a poor advertisement for what is supposed to be a “flagship service”, according to Translink.

I am not certain how many train units are currently in service. But according to the records, there are nine 201-Class locomotives built by General Motors (1994-5) in use for the Enterprise. Two of them (8208 River Lagan and 8209 River Foyle) are owned by Translink, the other seven belong to Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail). The Wikipedia entry records that the locos have had a chequered service history and that “the authors of Jane’s Train Recognition Guide noted that IÉ had had problems with engine fires and bogie cracks” (Harper Collins, London 2005). Last night’s was not the first such incident.

Translink advised on twitter that there was already a problem with the 16:50 Dublin to Belfast service: “1650 Dublin – Belfast is now 35 minutes late – Will be formed of 4 coaches. 1st class not available & catering is reduced.” When the problem on the 18:05 service to Dublin arose, the company initially advised that “Replacement road transport will be provided between Newry and Dublin Connolly.” But after ensuring that the passengers were led to safety in the opposite end of the train, they were kept waiting until an Iarnród Éireann train arrived on the other track and the passengers were led across a ramp from one train to the other, assisted by the Northern Ireland Transport Minister and local MLA Danny Kennedy and Translink staff. The passengers arrived in Dublin after 1am, nearly five hours late.

Fire on board Enterprise locomotive: Photo: PSNI Newry & Mourne via Facebook

Fire on board Enterprise locomotive: Photo PSNI Newry & Mourne via facebook

At the end of the day, no-one was injured. Mr Kennedy said there would be a full investigation. The loco involved was number 230, River Bandon, and is part of the Iarnród Éireann stock. They are model type JT42HCW, fitted with an EMD 12-710G3B engine of 3200 hp, weigh 112 tonnes and have a maximum speed of 164 km/h (102 mph). The Enterprise locos all operate on a push-pull basis.