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Northern Ireland lignite traffic

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Bóithre Iarainn
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Hello all,

In Colin Boocock's 'Locomotive Compendium of Ireland' the author mentions that Northern Ireland Railways purchased six surplus C/201 Class locomotives in 1986 (renumbering them as 104 Class) in order to transport lignite from the Lough Neagh area. I've found a little about the proposed lignite mining at Crumlin and Ballymoney at this time but I've found little that related to rail transport. Does anyone know what the traffic being envisioned actually was? Was NIR planning to rail lignite to Kilroot?

Thanks!

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On 31/5/2022 at 7:19 PM, Bóithre Iarainn said:

Hello all,

In Colin Boocock's 'Locomotive Compendium of Ireland' the author mentions that Northern Ireland Railways purchased six surplus C/201 Class locomotives in 1986 (renumbering them as 104 Class) in order to transport lignite from the Lough Neagh area. I've found a little about the proposed lignite mining at Crumlin and Ballymoney at this time but I've found little that related to rail transport. Does anyone know what the traffic being envisioned actually was? Was NIR planning to rail lignite to Kilroot?

Thanks!

Yes. The idea was that this traffic would probably require three locomotives if fully developed, with one spare and another couple for shunting and PW work. Sadly it never materialised, though had it done so, the environmental lobby would kill it stone dead today!

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Exploring this hypothetical freight flow further, what wagons did NIR have available to them at that time? Were the 2 axle spoil wagons still in existance? Would they have been suitable to hauling lignite?

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3 hours ago, dave182 said:

Exploring this hypothetical freight flow further, what wagons did NIR have available to them at that time? Were the 2 axle spoil wagons still in existance? Would they have been suitable to hauling lignite?

They had nothing at all. Had the traffic materialised, the initial solution would probably to have borrowed Irish Rail’s beet wagons and installed a tippler, before buying either new ones, something 2nd-hand from Irish Rail, or re-gauging something second-hand from brexitstan.

The unstable UTA spoil hoppers were almost all gone by then, but would have been completely unsuitable anyway.

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Transporting lignite by rail to Kilroot would have required significant investment by the promoters in a fleet of high capacity wagons and reliable locomotives as the operation had to be capable of operating reliably 365/24/7 in order to generate Northern Ireland's electricity.  The scheme if it every got beyond the feasibility stage is likely to have fallen on the basis that it was cheaper to run Kilroot on imported coal, than mine and transport the lignite, recent schemes appear to be based on building a powerstation at the mine site.

Our local power station Huntly of similar (coal burning) capacity to Kilroot receives up to 3,000 tonnes (2X30 wagon train loads) of imported coal daily to supplement locally mined coal while running at full capacity. 

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/tranz-rail-and-genesis-look-to-sign-coal-moving-deal/KZIRMVTNKGUHVHSO4OTNVT23LU/ 

Lignite appears to have a similar density a high capacity bogie wagon similar to the EWS HTA or a longer version of the IE Tara/Shale wagon would have been a sensible choice, the lower heat content of lignite (64% of coal) would have required a higher tonnage of lignite to be hauled than an equivalent coal burning operation, perhaps 4,500 tonnes daily between Crumlin and Kilroot which would have been pushing it from a motive power and timetabling perspective! 

B201s topping and tailing 8 wagon trains of hopper/tippler wagons (640 tonnes gross, 496 net)  anyone?

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Given the era and that Shildon works had been churning out 11000 4 wheel MGR wagons for the UK market and then a CDA varation perhaps 50 5`3" CDA might have been possible  conceived as a solution but engines .I guess more 071s  on hire.  Makes the might have been engines rotate swiftly...

Robert     

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The most striking aspect of converting Kilroot from oil to lignite burning would have been the requirement to burn over 6,000 tons of lignite daily while the station was operating at peak capacity. 

NIR/Northern Ireland Electric would have had to consider using heavy haul locos similar to the BR Class 56 or Foster Yeoman Class 59 to reliably transport such a high tonnage in order to avoid clogging up the NCC system and 'Antrim Branch" with Lignite Trains.

Single B201 hauled lignite trains were likely to be restricted to 520 tonnes gross (333 net) and 11 CDA/HAA or 18 trains daily between Crumlin and Kilroot (based on their load limits between North Wall and Cabra and the South Wexford, while a 071/111 or pair of Bo Bos were likely to be allowed 630 tonnes (429 net )and 13 CDA or 13 trains daily.

A more workable solution would have been to operate 3-4 1500-2000 ton trains daily with a  dedicated 'heavy haul' loco and stock possibly owned by the lignite mine operator in a similar manner to Foster Yeoman/Mendip Rail during the 1980s and 90s  or modern UK "Open Access' operators with the Northern Ireland Electricity and Transport Department responsible for providing and funding rail infrastructure.

In the end it probably worked out cheaper and resulted in a lot less environmental damage run Kilroot on imported coal rather than locally mined (open cast) lignite.

 

 

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Yes, more 071s might have been a compromise; bear in mind that these matters were decided by politicians, rather than anyone who knew anything about the industry, or railways!

An earlier version of 201s, perhaps.....  Those ex-"C" class B201s could have double headed ti get things started, I suppose.

Always thought that a layout based on 1980s / 90s NIR but with internal freight and lots of locos would make an interesting project - Hunslets, ex-CIE "C"s, the English Electric shunters, a "celebrity" "WT" class 2.6.4T, and 111s.....anything would improve the monotony of nothing but 70, 80 & Castle class railcars!

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