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Unread 22-05-2017, 20:48   #1
Thomas Morelli
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Default Does Waterford-Limerick have passenger potential?

Hello,

I am wondering if the Waterford to Limerick railway could see a higher patronage if changes were made on it, such as making the service more frequent.

I have read an article about the line on the Irish Times.
It was about Carrick-On-Suir railway station.
This is part of the article that makes me think that this line could carry more passengers:


Quote:
It appears the train service for a town of more than 6,000 located on the border of Tipperary, Waterford and Kilkenny is not being availed of because the timetable is very limited and unreliable.

For years, pleas to Irish Rail to put on more services and promote the line have “fallen on deaf ears”, said Seamus Campbell of the Carrick-on-Suir Business Association.

“Every town needs a train station. The timetable is just not conducive to allowing people travel by train to Waterford or Clonmel for work. It is just not possible. Because the service is so restricted people car pool to get to work. The train station is of no real use to people as it is,” he said.

In recent years Irish Rail has stripped out one of the two lines that ran through the station and about 10 years ago cut the services in half.
Does anyone know of other changes which could be made in the line?
I am aware the speed is very slow, but would that be feasible to improve?
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Unread 26-05-2017, 12:54   #2
Inniskeen
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Tens of millions have been spent on this line on new track, bridges, fencing, level crossing and vegetation control.

Zero effort has been made to leverage any benefit in terms of more frequent or more relevant services. The existing timetable serves primarily those travelling to/from Dublin and somewhat accidentally shoppers heading into Waterford for five hours or so shopping.

Every excuse under the sun is used to avoid catering for special events be it Spraoi, Winterval or Sporting. Irish Rail regard the line as a nuisance and treat it accordingly.

Ironically this is one of the few lines in the country where the railway could easily compete on journey time with other modes.
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Unread 26-05-2017, 21:44   #3
Thomas Morelli
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Ironically this is one of the few lines in the country where the railway could easily compete on journey time with other modes.
I agree. I was thinking the same thing when I looked at the journey time by road according to google maps.
What is the most effective thing that could be done to improve journey times so the line would be competitive with other modes of transport?
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Unread 26-05-2017, 22:18   #4
Jamie2k9
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Quote:
Every excuse under the sun is used to avoid catering for special events be it Spraoi, Winterval or Sporting. Irish Rail regard the line as a nuisance and treat it accordingly.
They did run Winterval specials maybe 3 years ago, not sure how loading were but they were well advertised so if they failed to attract enough people then it's hard to justify it.

Surly it's the NTA who need to fund extra services, then again they should be ensuring the current schedules are operated fully but reliability has been poor this year due to crew shortage but it has improved lately.

Last edited by Jamie2k9 : 26-05-2017 at 22:21.
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Unread 08-07-2017, 14:35   #5
Thomas Morelli
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Has this idea ever been suggested?

Tipperary County Council strongly oppose the closure of this line, and they also strongly support upgrading the N24 Waterford to Limerick road to motorway status.

If the motorway is built, plenty of infrastructure such as cuttings and embankments will have to be built for it, and the Waterford to Limerick railway could be rebuilt on this infrastructure as well, and it could return to the original alignment briefly for the four sections where it goes through towns.

Building the motorway infrastructure slightly wider to allow a railway as well would be of minimal additional expense, and the straight level alignment with no level crossings would allow for a very reasonable speed of trains.

The original alignment would then be largely open to use as a cycle track.
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Unread 10-07-2017, 15:54   #6
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Sorry but this proposal is to say the least totally unrealistic. For one thing motorways are built with gradients which are much more severe than railways, and they are often quite curved by railway standards.

It Tipperary CO Council want a motorway to replace the N24, then this would kill off the railway for sure. I suppose the CO Council would lobby for both railway and motorway given that taxpayers elsewhere would largely be the payers.

A serious upgrade of the line would cost a lot less than any motorway proposal, and could result in genuinely competitive journey times, but that would be totally counter to NTA and Dept of Transport thinking.
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Unread 10-07-2017, 18:49   #7
Inniskeen
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The line has been substantially upgraded over the last 10 to 15 years and is now in a far better state than it was when heavy freight traffic and faster passenger trains were operating. It is frankly scandalous that so little effort has been made to capitalise on investments already made. The current situation is a case study in stupidity and paucity of intelligent policy.
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Unread 11-07-2017, 09:36   #8
comcor
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Where I can think that this has been done (e.g. along the A4/A10 in Amsterdam), it's generally been to allow realignment of line in suburban areas. The trains that serve those lines don't go too fast.

The Paris-Brussels TGV line does parallel the A1 motorway for a decent distance, but if you look on a map, it's not just built in the motorway margin. It follows a much straighter line and the motorway often drifts away by as much as 300m.

If we ever considered this in Ireland, using it to rebuild an existing line doesn't seem the way to go. Maybe it could work if the M20 was ever built from Limerick to Charleville, as it would be a commuter line and cut off the Limerick Junction corner on the way to Cork, but that's really the only instance where I could imagine it working.
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Unread 11-07-2017, 10:00   #9
Thomas Morelli
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If we ever considered this in Ireland, using it to rebuild an existing line doesn't seem the way to go. Maybe it could work if the M20 was ever built from Limerick to Charleville, as it would be a commuter line and cut off the Limerick Junction corner on the way to Cork, but that's really the only instance where I could imagine it working.
That sounds like something that would work quite well.
It would link Cork, Limerick and Galway directly by rail.
The plans for the M20 are all over the news at the moment.
Do you think the infrastructure of the M20 would allow a reasonable speed by train?
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Unread 11-07-2017, 12:09   #10
comcor
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It's more that you're only looking at 30km, so even if speeds of 100km/h could be acheived, you could get Cork-Limerick below the hour mark.

However, if the Dublin-Cork mainline does ever get to 200km/h, it should be able to get close to that via Limerick Junction (and match it if there was a bit of investment into Limerick Junction to Limerick), so it's questionable as to the benefit there.

It could also allow for commuter services along a Charleville-Croom-Patrickswell-Raheen-Limerick route, but realistically, you may as well run an all stops service from Cork to Limerick and vice versa as the two cities commuter belts come within touching distance of each other (Charleville is arguably in both).
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Unread 12-07-2017, 19:10   #11
Thomas Morelli
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I got the idea from an article on engineersjournal.ie, which was comparing Ireland's transport system with Denmark's. http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2016/...he-right-track

Quote:
The Danish King Frederik V in 1761 had to rely on the expertise of French engineers to design many ‘straight-line’ roads as there was a lack of expertise available within the country. In the 1790s, road design standards were published and included details on cross sections, structure and curvature.
Quote:
Subsequently, roads lost much of their significance in Denmark, with some being converted to railways (those straight lines coming in handy) to further service industry. Rail lines also continued in Ireland, peaking at 3,500km of track in 1920.
Do you think this would work for the Western Rail Corridor between Tuam and Collooney (if it returns) and the M17, considering there are a lot of gradients, sharp turns and level crossings on the line's original alignment?
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Unread 13-08-2017, 10:02   #12
Thomas Morelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inniskeen View Post
The line has been substantially upgraded over the last 10 to 15 years and is now in a far better state than it was when heavy freight traffic and faster passenger trains were operating. It is frankly scandalous that so little effort has been made to capitalise on investments already made. The current situation is a case study in stupidity and paucity of intelligent policy.
Does the track now allow a better speed than what the trains are travelling at now?
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Unread 13-08-2017, 17:41   #13
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From a layman’s perspective and user of the line now and again (not in my home area) I would say a definite yes but what level of an increase I’m not sure. There are certainly issues such as accommodation/ farmers’ crossings and sighting distances but if I’m not mistaken some of these are unused/closed and given the upgrading of the permanent way in very recent years at least 60mph should be attainable on sections.

I recall sections of Rosslare-Wellingtonbridge-Waterford had a 70mph line speed some years ago but a trawl through some old timetables doesn’t reveal faster than 1 hour 32 minutes for Waterford - Limerick Junction albeit with loco hauled stock (serving the remaining four intermediate stations as per today). Therefore given the superior characteristics of the ICRs the journey nowadays is at least 10-15 minutes slower relatively speaking.

Of course this line has potential but it requires a suite of measures such as:

* Through running to Limerick (Or beyond i.e. Ennis/Galway) to give a true regional Intercity service. Linkage with Rosslare bus at Waterford.

* Sunday evening service each way for returning student/weekender/tourism traffic. Enhanced Summer service.

* Targeted commuter service Clonmel – Waterford with complementing measures e.g. connecting town/city buses at Clonmel/Waterford, more car parking at Clonmel, Taxsaver promotion.

* Promotion & a community rail partnership – possibly an opportunity for the NTA to showcase best practice and co-ordinate stakeholders.

* Regular freight flow.

* It also doesn’t help to have some subsidised bus services operating at very similar times to trains such as on route 355 (Cahir-Waterford) and 387 (Wexford-Rosslare Harbour).

Last edited by Traincustomer : 13-08-2017 at 17:50. Reason: clarity
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Unread 13-08-2017, 21:06   #14
Thomas Morelli
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Is it definite that this line's potential would be completely gone if the N24 is replaced by a motorway?

I am unsure of this because while road competition does of course limit and sometimes destroy potential for railway lines, the N24 traffic volumes are comparable to the N4 traffic volumes according to Transport Infrastructure Ireland's Traffic Count Data website.

The Sligo line is doing all right, despite the fact that the N4 for the most part varies between dual carriageway and a standard of single carriageway where it is still safe to drive at over 100km/h.
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Unread 14-08-2017, 07:37   #15
James Howard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Morelli View Post
The Sligo line is doing all right, despite the fact that the N4 for the most part varies between dual carriageway and a standard of single carriageway where it is still safe to drive at over 100km/h.
The main reason the Sligo line is doing all right is because the N4 is at this stage woefully inadequate beyond Mullingar. At busy times you will inevitably get stuck in a stream of traffic travelling below 80kph for most of the way between Mullingar and Longford. The only dual carriageway is a short stretch around Dromod and a 30 minute wait to get through Carrick is not unusual at busy times.

It is looking very much like an N4 upgrade is on the cards which will inevitably attract a proper private express bus service. This will inevitably mean the end of the train service beyond Longford unless 15 to 30 minutes can be knocked off the journey time which is basically unchanged since the start of the 20th century. The existing road journey is just over 200km, which will be easily achievable by bus in 2 and half hours by motorway.

So the same logic applies to other routes - unless there is investment in rail, it is unlikely that routes will survive the building of parallel motorways. Even with investment the Irish Rail's high cost-base means that low-cost private bus operators are likely to run rings around them on pricing.
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Unread 14-08-2017, 10:59   #16
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One of the easiest potential benefits to the line is sorting out Limerick Junction. At some future date, I believe we are supposed to be seeing a situation where both a Cork-Dublin and Dublin-Cork train could stop there at the same time. If that happens, it becomes a lot easier to provide good connections at that end. Ideally, there would be another platform that would allow a Waterford-Limerick (or vice versa) service in at the same time without any silly time-consuming reversing manoeuvres, but maybe that can come if there is an increase in patronage after the connections are sorted out.
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Unread 14-08-2017, 13:38   #17
Thomas Morelli
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Quote:
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The main reason the Sligo line is doing all right is because the N4 is at this stage woefully inadequate beyond Mullingar. At busy times you will inevitably get stuck in a stream of traffic travelling below 80kph for most of the way between Mullingar and Longford. The only dual carriageway is a short stretch around Dromod and a 30 minute wait to get through Carrick is not unusual at busy times.

It is looking very much like an N4 upgrade is on the cards which will inevitably attract a proper private express bus service. This will inevitably mean the end of the train service beyond Longford unless 15 to 30 minutes can be knocked off the journey time which is basically unchanged since the start of the 20th century. The existing road journey is just over 200km, which will be easily achievable by bus in 2 and half hours by motorway.

So the same logic applies to other routes - unless there is investment in rail, it is unlikely that routes will survive the building of parallel motorways. Even with investment the Irish Rail's high cost-base means that low-cost private bus operators are likely to run rings around them on pricing.
In relation to the first two paragraphs, point taken.

Is there a chance, then, that the line could survive the building of a parallel motorway if the service is improved?
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Unread 14-08-2017, 16:02   #18
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The most relevant thing is probably that a parallel motorway isn't going to be built any time soon. Limerick Waterford is well down the priority list, with completion of radial routes out of Dublin and Cork-Limerick above it in priority. What all that means is that it is at least 10 years until a motorway is in place and it's probably going to be later than that.

That means that Irish Rail have plenty of time to consider a response.

Can the railway survive a parallel motorway. We can look at how other routes have done.

Those that have done OK fall into two categories
- Ones where the service is fast (Cork/Limerick-Dublin)
- Ones where the bulk of traffic is commuters heading into a city centre(Dundalk-Dublin, Wicklow-Dublin, Kildare/Carlow-Dublin, Midleton-Cork or Athenry-Galway)

The failures have been where the line is slow and the commuter traffic isn't there.

So it's pretty clear what Irish Rail need to do - increase line speed and build commuter traffic into Waterford and Limerick. The problem is that takes money and the projects need to compete with other parts of the network, where the money may see a greater return and where it isn't potentially dead money because other lines aren't in danger of closing.
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Unread 14-08-2017, 18:09   #19
Thomas Morelli
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One of the easiest potential benefits to the line is sorting out Limerick Junction. At some future date, I believe we are supposed to be seeing a situation where both a Cork-Dublin and Dublin-Cork train could stop there at the same time. If that happens, it becomes a lot easier to provide good connections at that end. Ideally, there would be another platform that would allow a Waterford-Limerick (or vice versa) service in at the same time without any silly time-consuming reversing manoeuvres, but maybe that can come if there is an increase in patronage after the connections are sorted out.
Is that a situation where some of the Limerick to Limerick Junction trains would continue to Waterford?

Should a platform perpendicular to the existing ones be built for these trains?
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Unread 15-08-2017, 07:56   #20
comcor
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There can be all sorts of fantasy solutions at Limerick Junction. The ideal is something that looks like Amsterdam Sloterdijk, with lines being grade-separated and platforms that can incorporate trains to every one of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford at the same time, with all being a through train from one of the others.

However, that has to be offset by some reality. Every solution has a price that it needs to justify and then there will also be the thought of the future of the line. That means that priority will go to Dublin-Cork improvements, then to Limerick improvements, and then finally Waterford improvements.

I would say, let the Cork-Dublin platforms be built.

Then persuade Irish Rail that Waterford will definitely stay open and needs investment.

Then it may be possible to consider a short platform, linked to the Cork-bound platform, alongside the line to Waterford.

Others on here will know better the operational problems with stopping a train in a location where it is about to cross another track, but I would suspect that it would have to be stopped at the platform before any Cork-Dublin or Dublin-Cork services have pulled in. The Limerick bay doesn't suffer from this and it could be possible to put in a terminating platforn off the Waterford line, but that would preclude through running without manoeuvres.
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