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  • Abbeyfeale Track and Signal Diagram North Kerry Line

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    Abbeyfeale opened December 1880 and Listowel were the two principal intermediate stations on the Limerick and Kerry Railway (NewcastleWest to Tralee).

    The station was originally opened with a single passenger platform and a goods loop, a signal box and a second platform with a loop for crossing passenger trains was added in 1881, after which there was little alternation to the station track layout until the Listowel-Ballingarne section of the North Kerry Line closed in November 1975.

    The track layout is similar to  Listowel,  Swinford with a long loading bank and goods shed served by a loop arrangement with crossover connections to the running lines that allowed the yard to be shunted by trains in either direction without requiring the loco to run round its train, this arrangement appears to be unique to the former Waterford Limerick and Western Lines.

    The station was signaled for Up and Down running through the platform roads, the arrangement of crossovers from the running lines to the yard would have allowed Up or Down trains to set out or pick up  traffic from the yard with minimal shunting an important consideration when the railway carried perishable and urgent goods traffic by passenger train, individual wagons could be positioned by the loading bank or in the goods shed by shunting horse or by hand.

    The use of the double crossovers and diamond crossing from the goods yard to running lines may have been to reduce the number of facing points on passenger running lines in the station to an absolute minimum to meet Board of Trade requirements current in the 1880s, the diamond crossing at Listowel was replaced by a pair of crossovers apparently in CIE days which allowed a train from Tralee to run directly into the yard without having to set back.

    The arrangement of the loop and platforms at the Tralee end of the station was slightly unusual, up trains from Tralee had to take a diverging route into the loop platform, while down trains from Limerick had to pass the signal for entering the section to Listowel in order to occupy the platform or take water as the length of the loop at the Tralee end of the station was restricted by the single track road underbridge.

    Train services in WLWR & GSWR days appear to have been 3-4 through Limerick passenger trains one of which ran as a mixed mail train with limited passenger accommodation and a daily return goods train over the length of the line which sometimes operated as a mixed on the Listowel-Tralee section. Goods traffic appears to have been mainly local between stations of the Tralee-Limerick line and former Waterford Limerick & Western system, grades over Barnagh on Abbeyfeale-Newcastle West section of the line restricted trains to 25 wagon length without a banking locomotive or 40 maximum with a banker. While through trains appear to have been primarily worked by J15 or 101 Class 0-6-0 in GSR and CIE days, the GSR used ex GSWR 0-4-4T tank locos on an afternoon Limerick-Abbeyfeale local passenger train, the ex-GSWR 0-4-4T had an antique spidery appearance but had a reputation of being fast capable performers.

    Services were cut back to a single up & down passenger and goods trains under CIE management regular passenger service was discontinued in 1963, special passenger and a daily return Limerick-Tralee goods continued to operate over the line until regular traffic ceased over Barnagh in December 1972. The run down of goods services to Abbeyfeale  was gradual, the station was served by a trice weekly service from Tralee from December 1972, although a through Limerick-Abbeyfeale goods was restored briefly while the bridge at the western end of the station was repaired following a bridge strike in May 1973, service from Tralee resumed on completion of the repairs in June 1973. The scheduled goods appears to have been cut back to Listowel at some stage before the Listowel-Ballingarne section closed in October 1975, but the station continued to handle wagon load traffic as required up to closure although there does not appear to be a record of a final Abbeyfeale goods train.

    The North Kerry continued to handle special passenger trains and operate as a diversionary route (when the line via Killarney was blocked by flooding or landslips) until the line over Barnagh was condemned for passenger traffic in June 1975. Passenger specials included Listowel Race & Educational Specials and Knock Pilgrimage Trains including a 14 Bogie-Abbeyfeale-Knock special which was worked in two portions to Limerick. 




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