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Unread 26-03-2010, 14:35   #1
sitric
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Red face Galway <---> Limerick: The slowest train in Europe?

OK - sorry for the provocative title, but it may well be
true. A distance of 70 miles that takes 2 hours. Thats
an average of 35 miles per hour (in old money!).
For comparison, if I was in France, I could travel 265
miles in 2 hours on a train (Paris-Lyon), or put another
way, in 2 hours I could go from Belfast to Cork.

Why is it so slow? The answer it seems is:

1) The trains don't go fast! Another poster on the forum says,
because of the bad track quality, maximum speed is 50 miles/hour.

2) The trains stop _everywhere_, at small towns and villages.
I've never done an exact calculation on this, but my reckoning is
each stop costs 5 minutes in total travel time (.....about
1.5 minutes to slow a heavy train, 2 minutes actual stop, 1.5
minutes to get it back up to speed again).
On the Galway - Limerick line there are 6 stops. So thats 30
minutes just for stops.

The solutions:

Solution to 1):
Well, thats a much bigger political debate, money, etc. Make
the train line better, make the trains better, etc. So thats
a much bigger fight (for another day....)

Solution to 2):
Well, hey presto, the solution to 2) costs nothing: Simply,
run some (not all) non-stop trains between the two cities.
That will shave 30 minutes off the trip (well... 70 miles
distance, for a train at 50 mph - should be travel time of
85 minutes).

For more details (and a longer rant!!) read on!
__________________________________________________ ____________
So, what seems to me to be the best service would be:

1) Frequent "commuter" type trains into/out of the two
cities, at rush hours. I know for a fact many people
who work in Galway city live near athenry/craughwell/ardrahan
even Gort. So run a commuter service (every 20 minutes) from
7am to 9am from Gort in to Galway!
(I guess, at the other end, there are commuters from
Sixmilebridge/Ennis going to Limerick, so do the same there.)

2) Then, intercity services spread throughout the day, half of
them "non stop" and half "stop everywhere". e.g. 3 in each
direction of each type.
(At a limit - maybe the "non-stop" one should stop in Ennis).

What IE does not seem to get on a national basis is what has been
happenning successfully in Europe for years: Trains do not
have to stop everywhere, and moreover they SHOULD not all
stop everywhere. The point is, that by running trains that stop
in small places (and hence providing a _good_ service to the
small numbers of people that live there), you provide a
dis-service to the large numbers of people in the larger (cities),
by having long journeys. This might not be so crucial, if the
trains themselves were electric high-speed, that even by stopping
everywhere, could easily beat the car/bus. But in Ireland, the
train that stops everywhere will never beat the car/bus (at the
moment there are non-stop buses running Galway-Dublin in 2.5
hours, beating the fastest trains 2.9 hours).
And the bottom line is, even with all the other nice aspects of
train travel, if it can't beat fairly significantly the car/bus
(or ....dare I say it... the aeroplane), people won't use it in
numbers.

Lastly.

Of course there will/would be protests from the people who live
in smaller places at trains flying right through their place.
But just, do the numbers:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...y_popula tion

Galway: 72,000 people
Limerick: 90,000 people
Ennis: 24,000 people.

and all other stops en-route have less than 3,000 people.
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Unread 26-03-2010, 21:29   #2
Mark Gleeson
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The reason the WRC is slow is it was never built for passenger services, it was built for freight. Its got too many corners and too many hills to allow a reasonable speed to be maintained. Compare that with Dublin Cork which hasn't a single corner which requires a limit of less than 80mph

The government where given three options

1. Minimum cost option to make safe for passengers circa 40mph
2. Best achieveable within existing route (i.e avoid major civil works) 60mph
3. Build from scratch a new direct and straight line (anything between 400million and 1 billion euro if you go via Shannon)

Option 2 was the chosen option and trains will run at 60mph except where the curves get in the way.

There is no business case for the line and all the reports say that, compare that with Midleton which had a strong case

The stop at Sixmilebridge seems justified, but Craughwell and Ardahan are a waste of money, considering the low speeds and the type of train a stop costs more like 3-4 minutes.

Given Ennis generates 200,000 journeys per annum, a stop is essential, Sixmilebridge is to have a bus to Shannon Airport. Even non stop the train can't win as the rail distance is much further than by road. the stop in Athenry cannot be ommitted as the train must reverse there, a stop in Gort is required to allow for a train passing the other way

The only workable investment would have been a second track from Athenry to Galway (it was two tracks till the early 1900's), add in a few extra stations and run every 30 minutes, very similar to Cork-Cobh would be cheap, effective and most of all be attractive to use
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Unread 10-06-2010, 17:01   #3
jscales1
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Is there a chance in the future that with a good level of passenger use that the line will be brought up to the same standard as the Dublin-Cork line.
Is the passenger number high?
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Unread 10-06-2010, 17:47   #4
Mark Gleeson
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Despite some hype the numbers are broadly in line with the 100,000 per annum pre opening estimate.

In comparison Dublin Cork services carry 3-4 million per annum at 4 times lower cost to the taxpayer
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Unread 10-06-2010, 21:51   #5
ccos
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Quote:
In comparison Dublin Cork services carry 3-4 million per annum at 4 times lower cost to the taxpayer

In fairness I dont think even the most fanatical WOTer claimed it would compete with the Dubllin Cork route, afterall theres around a million dubs who need bringing to a proper city.
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Unread 12-06-2010, 14:18   #6
dowlingm
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If the Crusheen station proceeds it will get even slower!

In fairness though, sitric, a search of this forum, not to mention the mightily long threads on boards.ie, will tell you you're preaching to the choir. There were any number of expansion or state-of-good-repair projects that 106m and the design and engineering manpower required could have be employed on to bring in a multiple of the 100k passengers - including improvements to the northern and southern thirds of the WRC alignment itself.

These could have facilitated passengers by allowing more frequent departures rather than crews and trains wasting duty time and diesel sitting in termini waiting for a slot on the single track ahead.
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Unread 24-07-2010, 06:23   #7
EMD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Gleeson View Post
Despite some hype the numbers are broadly in line with the 100,000 per annum pre opening estimate.

In comparison Dublin Cork services carry 3-4 million per annum at 4 times lower cost to the taxpayer
Apples and oranges. How much has been spent on the Dublin-Cork corridor for decades? It was always the GSR's most important corridor, and of course should have seen the level of care it has seen (save being afflicted by Mark 4s). Is it fair to compare LGVs to traditional railway corridors in France?

Also, "too many corners" is not an excuse, unless there is no super-elevation on them, and that's not even safe for freight operations to be excluded. Grades are not a good excuse either, since DMUs have multiple driving axles and can surmount them far better than loco with trailer cars. The track is not the limiting factor in speed, especially when the track is brand new (and, presumably, does not have gauge variation problems through being under-maintained); signalling is.

In spite of the limitations, I still see promising useage of this line, even when one cuts through the (unspecified) "hype". The only buses that could beat it are express buses, and even with the reputedly low city populations (which do not reflect metropolitan area populations), there's a fantastic amount of roads traffic that you just cannot drive through, whereas the train even travelling at a relatively pokey average speed of 58 km/h will by-pass those jams.
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Unread 24-07-2010, 20:48   #8
dowlingm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMD View Post
Apples and oranges. How much has been spent on the Dublin-Cork corridor for decades?
Limerick Junction alone would demonstrate how IE have not spent enough on its premier corridor.
  • No east side platform to allow simultaneous NB and SB service stops
  • 25mph speed limit due to the state of the trackage
  • Derailment caused by retention of a life expired switch
  • No platform on the Waterford line thus requiring trains to Waterford to block the mainline even if proceeding back towards Waterford after stopping.
Add to that Portarlington's only recently completed work, the continuing restrictions elsewhere which caused the court case in respect of the engineer involved, the laying of rail too light for a 3000hp loco at 100mph...

Quote:
In spite of the limitations, I still see promising useage of this line, even when one cuts through the (unspecified) "hype". The only buses that could beat it are express buses
If you arrive at Limerick station at 2.30pm you will have to wait 55mins for your next bus which will arrive in Galway approx 2h20m later. Your 1h55 train won't depart for another 3h35m. Even outside of that, the train's headway is of the order of 2h20m, the bus 1hr.

By the way - using terms like superelevation will get this thread disappeared to the members section.
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Unread 23-08-2010, 16:54   #9
Alan French
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The slowest train in Europe?

I'm a bit late replying, but this question of average speed has come up in several threads, referring to different lines around the country. The Limerick-Galway service averages about 60km/h; let's not forget that the media chose to emphasise the line's slowness.

But it isn't the slowest in Europe. I can think of the narrow-gauge lines of northern Spain, or the Douro valley line in northern Portugal (especially the part east of Régua), where average speeds are down to 40-50km/h, and yet these lines are thriving. Mountainous terrain is generally what makes them slow. On certain parts of the Spanish narrow-gauge, there are buses doing the journey in half the time, using motorways that cut through the mountains. Yet the trains aren't empty, despite all the theories that they should be.

Obviously, whatever can be done to increase speeds should be done. But let's not be too dismissive of lines with low average speeds, as if everyone would suddenly stop using the trains once the road journey is faster. Frequency and good connections can make as big a difference as speed.

This also applies where the rail route is roundabout compared with the road route. In 1973 they decided that the main Dublin-Galway route would be via Portarlington. This was the longer of the two available routes. But that didn't suddenly mean that the trains would run empty.
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Unread 23-08-2010, 18:32   #10
corktina
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well as regards the WRC, its a service between two of the biggest cities in the Country, The road journey is already much faster and soon to be faster still, the fares are more than the competing (faster) bus service, the frequency is quite frankly pants, the line is worked on a one-shift basis afaik which means no early morning or late night trains (need I go on?)

Quite frankly I would be very surprised if it wasn't the slowest inter-city service in Europe.It averages LESS than 60km/h which is pitifully slow, many TRACTORS can maintain that speed.
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Unread 23-08-2010, 18:47   #11
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And Bus Eireann have just introduced a new express service between Limerick and Galway, the 51X. Only two stops, Gort and Oranmore. Journey time is listed as 90 minutes.
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Unread 23-08-2010, 18:56   #12
Mark Gleeson
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If we want to be frank about the realities Galway and Limerick are small cities on a European level. You would be surprised what European average actually is, Dublin Belfast believe it or not in journey times is exactly in line with European average

Its slow because it take roundabout route, the route isn't straight and has a lot of up and down.

The media is right to highlight the very clear difference in journey times, all the reports said not to open the line. The money would have been much better spent between Athenry and Galway on providing a commuter service, cost less to build, cost less to run and would generate a large number of passengers.
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Unread 23-08-2010, 19:18   #13
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I wonder will many/any improvements be made in the 2011 timetable..
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Unread 24-08-2010, 07:46   #14
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It's not even the slowest service in Ireland.

Limerick-Ballybrophy probably has that title.

And for services linking main cities Limerick-Waterford must have that title.
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