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.”


Bus Éireann Inspector Paddy Gollogly waves farewell to the Letterkenny express for the last time at Monaghan bus depot   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Bus Éireann Inspector Paddy Gollogly waves farewell to the Letterkenny express for the last time at Monaghan bus depot Photo: © Michael Fisher

Monaghan Bus Éireann Inspector Paddy Gollogly Retires  

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard Thursday 2nd July p.2

Bus Éireann Inspector Paddy Gollogly waved farewell for the last time as the Letterkenny express pulled out of Monaghan bus station on Tuesday afternoon. Since 1992 Paddy has been the Inspector at the depot, supervising all passing services at this busy stop, which is also used by Translink cross-border coaches from Derry and Armagh. After 44 years in the job, Paddy was hanging up his Inspector’s hat and looking forward to an active retirement.

Ulsterbus/Translink drivers from Armagh and Derry wish Paddy Gollogly all the best on his retirement Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Ulsterbus/Translink drivers from Armagh and Derry wish Paddy Gollogly all the best on his retirement Photo: © Michael Fisher

A native of Carrickmacross, he began work as a school bus driver in the area in 1971. He progressed to being a road passenger driver in Dundalk and Monaghan, earning promotion to the role of Inspector in Dundalk in 1990. After two years there, he transferred to his native county.

Drivers at Bus Éireann's Monaghan depot say farewell to Inspector Paddy Gollogly Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Drivers at Bus Éireann’s Monaghan depot say farewell to Inspector Paddy Gollogly Photo: © Michael Fisher

On his last day at work friends and colleagues gathered at the depot along with Paddy’s family to wish him well. They included Translink bus drivers from the services to Derry and Armagh. Several local Councillors also came to pay tribute to his courteous and loyal service over the years.

Paddy Gollogly is joined by his family including grandson Ryan for his last day at Monaghan bus depot  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Paddy Gollogly is joined by his family including grandson Ryan for his last day at Monaghan bus depot Photo: © Michael Fisher

They were led by the Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council, Noel Keelan. Councillor Keelan said Paddy’s record of service was a fantastic achievement, in helping to transport people around the county and country for so many years. He always had a smile on his face as he dealt with passengers and this helped a lot when it came to dealing with any complaints, Councillor Keelan said. For Paddy it would be a change of life, rather than a retirement and he wished him and his family well. He complimented Paddy, a founder member of Carrickmacross Lions Club, on the huge amount of work he had done for charity. This included an annual Christmas swim at Creevy Lake in Carrickmacross, raising funds for various causes.

Keeping the passengers happy: last call for the Dublin bus!  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Keeping the passengers happy: last call for the Dublin bus! Photo: © Michael Fisher

Paddy’s wife Bernie watched as a stream of drivers and former staff came to greet him. His daughter Elaine brought her infant son Ryan (aged eight months) to greet his grandfather and was joined by her brother Pauric.  It was a big day for Paddy but he was also conscious of the tragedy that had unfolded last week in Tunisia, in which a Bus Éireann colleague from Athlone, Larry Hayes and his wife Martina were shot dead, whose funerals will be taking place tomorrow (Friday). Michael McCormick, a Bus Éireann Inspector from Cavan said he had been told of the tragedy in a text message on Saturday afternoon and was also conscious of the suffering of the Hayes family.

He said he had a lot in common with Paddy, having started with the company in 1970 and he was the first port of call if he needed any back-up. He described Paddy as one of the old stagers and said they would all miss him. “Everywhere you went with Paddy, you had a laugh”, he said. Paddy was a great entertainer and he had enjoyed every hour of his company.

Councillor Paudge Connolly described Paddy as the very friendly face of CIE. Any time you met him, he was in good humour, he said. He did things for customers that went above and beyone the call of duty. He would be very sorely missed at this busy North/South hub and he wished him well on his retirement.

Staff at the Dinkin’s coffee shop at the bus station presented Paddy with a gift to mark his retirement. It was a portrait of himself painted by one of them, Goda Sirutyte, who is from Lithuania and has been in Monaghan for the past year.

Paddy Gollogly with the portrait painted by one of the Dinkin's cafe staff, Goda Sirutyte  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Paddy Gollogly with the portrait painted by one of the Dinkin’s cafe staff, Goda Sirutyte Photo: © Michael Fisher

When news of Paddy’s retirement reached the councillors, they expressed concern that he was not going to be replaced as Inspector. But Councillor Sean Conlon said a lot of lobbying had been done and he was pleased to note that a replacement Inspector had now been appointed. The new man in the post is Jim McFaul, who is moving from Dundalk, where he has been Inspector. He has worked for Bus Éireann for 28 years and has also served in Drogheda as well as Monaghan. He said he was looking forward to the challenge but Paddy would be a very difficult act to follow. He said the issue of buses to and from Monaghan had been raised in the past, particularly the early morning service to Dublin Airport.

He would endeavour to keep them at the top of the agenda. He believed that many people were turning to public transport because of the cost of fuel and running cars and that if a guaranteed, frequent service can be provided, then people would use it.

Special cake for Paddy Gollogly's retirement  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Special cake for Paddy Gollogly’s retirement Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was a great afternoon of celebration for a popular Inspector who has always done his best to serve the public and the people of County Monaghan during his long career with the semi-state company. The celebrations will continue this Saturday evening July 4th at Corduff Raferagh Community Centre, where Paddy has lived for the past thirty years. A night of music and craic is promised, with refreshments. A buffet supper will be served at 10pm and tickets will be available at the door on the night as the local community expresses its gratitude to Paddy Gollogly.

Paddy Gollogly expresses his thanks to the passengers on the Letterkenny express, who gave him a round of applause Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Paddy Gollogly expresses his thanks to the passengers on the Letterkenny express, who gave him a round of applause Photo: © Michael Fisher


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.


Closing stages of Balmoral Show 2013

Closing stages of Balmoral Show 2013

Thousands have again poured through the gates on the third and final day of the Balmoral Show at its new location on the site of what was once the high-security Maze prison near Lisburn. It used to house prisoners from republican and loyalist paramilitary groups, many of them serving life sentences for murder. Following a provision in the Good Friday agreement in 1998, the prisoners were released and the jail was closed in 2000 when the last four prisoners were freed. Demolition of the H-Blocks began on 30th October 2006 but after some controversy, part of the prison including the hospital block and one H-block were kept.

Unionists are now protesting against any plans to preserve these structures, which republicans feel are important because of their role during the 1981 hunger strike, in which ten inmates died. By chance, I am writing this while watching an RTÉ News report about the force-feeding by US authorities of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay detention camp at an American naval base in Cuba.

Valerie Orr, Ballygowan, with Irish Moiled breed

Valerie Orr, Ballygowan, with Irish Moiled breed

The farming community voted with their feet and gave their backing to the decision made last year by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society to move from their long-standing home at the King’s Hall, Balmoral, in South Belfast and to settle down instead at a 65 acre site at the Maze. Several huge marquees helped to make the complex into a tented village. One of them housed all the cattle. Among the prizewinners in the Irish Moiled category which made a return to the show this year after a gap of 70 years was Valerie Orr from Trainview Farm in Ballygowan. Valerie featured at the launch of the show in March.

The grand parade in the main arena this afternoon with representatives of all the classes (except dairy cattle, which had to be milked!) was very impressive, with all the prize winners showing off their rosettes and cups.

Charolais on parade

Charolais on parade

There had been many problems with traffic arriving at the show on Wednesday. Although things had improved considerably by the final day, some motorists still reported difficulties on the approach roads, caused in one case by a filter traffic light for a right hand lane allowing only six cars through at a time. Although the police were nearby, they remained in a car apparently and did not attempt to override the lights in order to improve the traffic flow. My experience was that on the second day, I found no problem arriving by car in the late afternoon, but it took over twenty minutes to get out of the car park at 7pm. A slip road to the M1 motorway which runs alongside the perimeter of the site is urgently needed.

Adelaide Station (South Belfast)

Adelaide Station (South Belfast)

So for the other two days I let the train (and bus) take the strain. I travelled by train from Adelaide station past Balmoral and the King’s Hall to Lisburn where there was a shuttle bus to the Maze. Translink staff told me between 40 and 48 single and double-deck buses were used for the service. Leaving the show site at 5:10pm at peak time, I was back at Balmoral (station) in one hour, with hardly any delay at Lisburn station, although a signalling failure had caused delays on the line. So take a bow, Translink staff, for providing excellent public service and showing good co-operation between bus and train divisions. Perhaps next time something can be done to designate a route for buses only and to give them their own entry/exit point, in order to improve journey times.

Roll up, Roll up for the Racing Pigs!

Roll up, Roll up for the Racing Pigs!


Waterside station, L'Derry

Waterside station, L’Derry

I wrote a blog recently (or started it) while travelling back from Coleraine on the train to Belfast. It was about the Setanta Cup match at the Showgrounds, which Shamrock Rovers won. Now I am writing on the move again, on the same stretch of track. But the difference this time is that I am returning from a day out in Derry.

Single Track replaced alongside Lough Foyle (viewed from Peace Bridge)

Single Track replaced alongside Lough Foyle (viewed from Peace Bridge)

Derry station

Derry station

Northern Ireland Railways (Translink) has just re-opened the line from Coleraine in County Londonderry to Derry City. The new timetable began this morning with the 09:20 service from Great Victoria Street station in Belfast, arriving at the Waterside station in Londonderry at 11:33am, one minute ahead of schedule. But even with the new track, the train takes nearly half an hour longer than the Goldliner express bus, which terminates at Foyle Street bus station, near the Guildhall.

This important rail infrastructure project has been timed to coincide with Derry being the UK Capital of Culture for 2013. It marks the completion of the first phase of the track renewal and improvement project at a cost of over £30m. Translink say it will secure the long-term future and sustainability of the Northern corridor rail link which provides vital connections to jobs, colleges, universities, shops, businesses and local attractions.

Mussenden Temple, Benone Strand

Mussenden Temple, Benone Strand

Peace Bridge from train

Peace Bridge from train

The GAA Congress was held in Derry for the first time this weekend and brought several hundred delegates from clubs throughout the island and further beyond to this rejuvenated city.

View from near Castlerock across towards Shrove, Moville, Inishowen

View from near Castlerock across towards Shrove, Moville, Inishowen

This blog was originally published as the train back to Belfast arrived at Yorkgate staion. I updated it later with a link to the new timetable. All in all, a very enjoyable day out, including a nice lunch at a popular bistro close to the station. So at this stage I think thanks are due to the Into the West rail link campaigners such as Eamonn McCann and the local politicians such as rail enthusiast John Dallat for putting the pressure on Translink to deliver what I hope will be a very successful improved service linking the two main cities in the North.