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Trains getting slower, not faster

May 19th 2008

As reported in this mornings Irish Examiner, train times are getting longer not shorter

So after near on €1 billion in investment you would imagine the trains would be faster. Faster more powerful trains, modern track, brand new signaling all point to the fact that journey times should reduce but curiously they have increased. While it is true that there are more trains running and that naturally has a side effect on journey times, but wasn't the new signaling designed specifically with the proposed timetables in mind? Wasn't over €110 million spent on Heuston station to reduce delays and increase capacity?

Of course Irish Rail put all the tricky work on the long finger, instead of doing it first, so Portarlington was only completed in April 2008, after 10 years with a 30mph speed limit, its now 80mph. Limerick Junction has been reduced to 25mph hopefully rising back to 80mph in 2009 as it was in the 1980's. Let us not forget the speed restrictions through Ballybrophy are still in place. Let us not forget of the Shannon Bridge on the Sligo line which is in such poor condition trains are forced to reduce speed to only 10mph. We where promised a 100mph railway to Cork, less than 35 miles are currently cleared for 100mph despite the route being the straightest in the country and Irish Rail want more money to deliver the times they promised 10 years ago. Does anyone remember the promise of 90 minutes non stop Dublin Belfast before the investment, we in Rail Users Ireland do, we also recall that a steam train could do the trip in 97 minutes when pushed.

As Irish Rail are so eager to tell us we pay fares in line with the European average, should we not expect a European level of service in return, should our trains not run at respectable speeds, should we not have similar levels of customer service and information as our fellow European's?

The morning business trains Cork Dublin

1993 with a 2450hp 90mph locomotive
The 7:35 Cork Dublin, 2 stops arrive Dublin 10:05
2 hours 30 minutes

2008 with a 3200hp 100mph locomotive
The 7:30 Cork Dublin, 3 stops arrives Dublin 10:20
2 hours 50 minutes

20 minutes longer despite, a more powerful locomotive and higher speed running, the extra stop should add only 5 minutes, so 15 minute difference

The evening business trains Dublin Cork

1993 with a 2450hp 90mph locomotive
The 17:30 Dublin Cork, 2 stops arrives Cork 20:00
2 hours 30 minutes

2008 with a 3200hp 100mph locomotive
17:00 Dublin Cork, 2 stops arrive Cork 19:45
2 hours 45 minutes

15 minutes longer despite, a more powerful locomotive and higher speed running

Best time in the 1970's was 2:45 non stop with a 75mph top speed

Mallow Cork times

  • 1973 time for a class one (express) train was 28 minutes, 30 for a class two
  • 1993 time typically 28 minutes
  • 2008 time typically 33-35 minutes for Dublin Cork train but only 24-25 minutes for a local Mallow - Cork service

Curious difference the 100mph Cork Dublin Express train takes up to 11 minutes more than the 70 mph commuter train, going the other way both take the same time. Could it be Irish Rail trying to massage the punctuality stats, after all trains from Dublin regularly arrive 10 minutes early

Dublin Limerick

1994 with a 2450hp 90mph locomotive
8:20 Limerick Dublin, 3 stops arriving 10:25
2 hours 5 minutes

2008 with a 3200hp 100mph locomotive
7:35 Limerick Dublin, 4 stops arriving 9:55
2 hours 20 minutes

15 minutes more with one extra stop, 10 minutes slower in real terms

Limerick Dublin

1994 with a 2450hp 90mph locomotive
17:35 Dublin Limerick/Ennis, 3 stops arriving Limerick 19:40
2 hours 5 minutes

Arrives Ennis 20:30
2 hours 55 minutes

2008 with a 3200hp 100mph locomotive
17:05 Dublin Limerick/Ennis, 2 stops arriving Limerick 19:17
2 hours 12 minutes

Arrives Ennis 20:10
3 hours 5 minutes

7 minutes more, one less stop to Limerick, 10 minutes more, one less stop to Ennis, 12-15 minutes more in real terms

Dublin Sligo line

Dublin Sligo is often forgotten as being the busiest regional line. Despite relaying every inch of track, new signaling, two tracks out to Maynooth and the new intercity railcars times are no better than 1973/1974

Dublin Sligo best time in 1973 was 3 hours best Irish Rail can do currently is 3 hours 3 minutes. most take 3 hours 5 minutes scan of 1973 timetable

Sligo Dublin best time in 1973 was 3 hours 5 minutes, best Irish Rail can do currently is 2:58 though several take 3 hours 5 minutes scan of 1973 timetable

Further Resources

Past Rail Users Ireland research in the matter of train times:

Last Updated: May 19 2008 14:43:32
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