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Would anybody have a brief history of Westrail?

Where and when did it operate, what equipment did they have any what happened to all the stock they had

 

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Operated between Tuam and  Athernry the stock was number 90 two mk1s and a E class in a special livery only at west rail not an expert on the topic but I think it closed in 1992 and 90 went to Whitehead

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They also had a Sugar Co. diesel engine, which got destroyed by vandals in a fire. They also had a very nice, but unrestored, 1905-era side corridor 50ft bogie. It was destroyed too.

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7 minutes ago, jhb171achill said:

They also had a Sugar Co. diesel engine, which got destroyed by vandals in a fire. They also had a very nice, but unrestored, 1905-era side corridor 50ft bogie. It was destroyed too.

Didn't they have a few rather...lopsided carriages? 

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I visited the site, many moons ago. The shed doors were wide open, not a sinner around. Had a look at the above mentioned coach and the beet loco. Was there for at least 40 mins. 

Not too long after the place was torched. You would think someone would at least pay visits and make sure the site is secure. Not knowing anyone or anything about the group I just went on my way.

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5 minutes ago, GSR 800 said:

Didn't they have a few rather...lopsided carriages? 

Yes!! They had three laminates, if I remember rightly, one of which was indeed "lopsided"!

They had, of course, beautifully restored E428, which is now at Dunsandle Halt on the erstwhile Loughrea branch.

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9 minutes ago, jhb171achill said:

Yes!! They had three laminates, if I remember rightly, one of which was indeed "lopsided"!

They had, of course, beautifully restored E428, which is now at Dunsandle Halt on the erstwhile Loughrea branch.

Had their own livery too, maroon and white for E428, with cream for the coaches.

 

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32 minutes ago, Midland Man said:

Pity it closed but why did it?

A combination of vandalism including a fire which destroyed coaching stock, financial issues and the retirement of the last steam driver in Galway.

 

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Pity 

If it was still around maybe 184 and 186 would have a nice little home. They may of got more drivers by letting them get experience in England or something let's hope Maam cross will help or the new W class. 

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15 minutes ago, Midland Man said:

Pity it closed but why did it?

Westrail was basically forced to cease rail operations as a result of significant problems in accessing the railway network during the early-mid 1990s.

The company continued to operate a restaurant in Tuam station following the ending of railway operations.

Westrail was unable to access the rail network from its Tuam depot from the early 1990s as a result of the temporary closure of the Athenry-Claremorris line and IE disconnecting the Westrail depot from the network when the line re-opened in 94-95?

Westrail continued to operate trains using No 90 and hired coaches for two seasons based in Galway and Cork while the Athenry-Cleremorris line was closed. The Cork-Cobh operation appears to have been a commercial failure due to the high cost of hiring coaches and accommodating Westrail service staff in Cork during the operation.

IEs disconnecting the Tuam depot appears to have been the final tipping point to cease railway operations as Westrail appear to have secured the long term loan of a larger loco SLNCR Lough Erne and secured Tourist Board funding for its restoration.

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Really So it was wrong place at the wrong time effected but seeming Lough Enre run again would be truly lovely

MM

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6 minutes ago, Mayner said:

Westrail was basically forced to cease rail operations as a result of significant problems in accessing the railway network during the early-mid 1990s.

The company continued to operate a restaurant in Tuam station following the ending of railway operations.

Westrail was unable to access the rail network from its Tuam depot from the early 1990s as a result of the temporary closure of the Athenry-Claremorris line and IE disconnecting the Westrail depot from the network when the line re-opened in 94-95?

Westrail continued to operate trains using No 90 and hired coaches for two seasons based in Galway and Cork while the Athenry-Cleremorris line was closed. The Cork-Cobh operation appears to have been a commercial failure due to the high cost of hiring coaches and accommodating Westrail service staff in Cork during the operation.

IEs disconnecting the Tuam depot appears to have been the final tipping point to cease railway operations as Westrail appear to have secured the long term loan of a larger loco SLNCR Lough Erne and secured Tourist Board funding for its restoration.

I was involved with the RPSI then, and while there had been talk of "Lough Erne" being borrowed, it never hardened into a serious discussion at the Board, let alone happening. However, at the same time, ANOTHER potential preservation scheme which never even got off the ground, asked if the loco could be lent to them as a static exhibit. That, too, never hardened into a serious enquiry.

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we will probably never get something like west rail as there is no backbone I remember a helping on a committee for Moate station and they wanted to get 184 on static display with coaches at Moate ( It has to do with the train robbery moive thing) but he could never get into talks with the RPSI At the time I felt annoyed that they would not let us have it but know I am happy as they would probably do something really really stupid with it!

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The RPSI, as a registered museum, is not allowed to randomly lend out listed artefacts unless the likes of the Downpatrick & Co Down Railway, in other words, a properly accredited museum. Even if they wanted to, they can't lend to local interest groups or informal committees. This is NOT to do down such groups; they do amazing local community work - it is simply a reality of life.

I was on the RPSI's management committee at the time and I recall several informal conversations. But the deal was always - and always HAD to be - if someone on Mullingar builds a proper museum, staffs it and insures it, we are open to offers. Sadly, such a thing was never close to happening; the same is true of the absolutely disgraceful shambles that the local authority in Tralee has made of the T & D line. There just isn't the interest here. This sounds defeatist, but it's true. It's probably the hardest and most consistent lesson that over 25 years in the running of the RPSI and DCDR has taught me.

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Posted (edited)

Going back to the original question:

Westrail's Tuam operations evolved out of the West of Ireland Steam Railway Associations attempts to re-open the Loughrea branch as a preserved railway in the late 70s early 80s. 

The association established a restoration base at Attymon and intended to re-open the line on a phased basis towards Dunsandle and Loughrea as funds and resources permitted.

The organisation reformed as a limited company Westrail in the mid 1980s and transferred its locos and rolling stock to a new base at Tuam when it became obvious that running trains on CIE metals would be more achievable than restoring and re-opening a section of the Loughrea Branch Line.  

Besides the economic factors the change in focus from railway restoration to excursion train was forced on WISRA by CIE with the planned closure of Attymon as a blockpost and intention to abandon and lift the Loughrea Branch when the 10 year moratorium on abandoning the line expired in November 1985.

Original stock included E428 & E430, and rolling stock from Mullingar Scrap yard, coaches were mainly departmental stock of ex GSWR origin, and freight stock suitable for use in engineers trains and material storage. oddities included GNR bulk cement wagon 2134N & GSWR 8678 the Loughrea Branch goods brake. Some restoration work was carried out at Attymon including the initial restoration of E428 and extensive body repairs/re-planking 8678. 

CIE had an acute carriage shortage when WISRA went shopping for suitable coaching stock in the late 1970s, Westrail acquired more modern 'ready to use" coaches as CIE withdrew its older coaching stock from the mid 1980s onwards, some restored coaches were acquired from the Great Southern Railway Preservation Society when that organisation folded.

The Westrail Tuam Facebook page includes photos of what was achieved at both Attymon and Tuam.

https://www.facebook.com/westrailtuam/?tn-str=k*F

Edited by Mayner
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Would it be fair to say that the ‘authorities’ in the UK have been more responsive to railway preservation than their opposite numbers in Ireland. Both WISRA and GSRPS both offered much but both eventually failed because they couldn’t turn their aspirations into reality. Let’s hope that the Connemara project succeeds.
 

Stephen

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Midland Man said:

we will probably never get something like west rail as there is no backbone I remember a helping on a committee for Moate station and they wanted to get 184 on static display with coaches at Moate ( It has to do with the train robbery moive thing) but he could never get into talks with the RPSI At the time I felt annoyed that they would not let us have it but know I am happy as they would probably do something really really stupid with it!

It would have been like another well meaning but naïve project, the Cahirciveen "C", that got several shades of sugar hammered out of it by local youths. Unless your exhibit is under cover and lock and key here, forget it. It's going to get vandalised.

Edited by minister_for_hardship
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, StevieB said:

Would it be fair to say that the ‘authorities’ in the UK have been more responsive to railway preservation than their opposite numbers in Ireland. Both WISRA and GSRPS both offered much but both eventually failed because they couldn’t turn their aspirations into reality. Let’s hope that the Connemara project succeeds.
 

Stephen

The Connemara project stands a greater chance of success than Westrail or the Great Southern Railway Preservation Society as it appears to be lead by an enthusiast who also controls the track bed and therefore is not dependent on IE for corridor access.

The major difference between Ireland and the UK (& other countries) is that Regional and County Councils have much more autonomy in terms of implementing transport policy and spending money than Ireland. In most Countries Councils are responsible for planning and funding public transport and tourist attractions.

Most significantly UK Councils had 1st refusal to acquire disused lines from British Rail while no similar requirement applied in Ireland. Council power to acquire disused lines stimulated the second generation of railway preservation schemes in the UK with Councils leasing disused lines to preservation societies with lines such as the West Somerset, East Lancashire and North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Outside of the UK States and Councils have bought and established tourist railways with commercial operators on disused railway lines including the 64 mile Cumbres & Toltec in Colorado & New Mexico, the 60km Taieri Gorge railway in New Zealand, the restoration of the West Coast Wilderness Railway by the Tasmanian Government https://www.wcwr.com.au/ The best comparison with the latter would be Kerry County Council & the Irish Government funding the rebuilding of the  Tralee & Dingle or Valencia Branch to promote tourism in County Kerry post Coronavirus.

Edited by Mayner
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Yes, the local authority issue is exactly as above - however - when there is a local sportsman or politician to be honoured in a rural  location, they'll get it done by hook or by crook. 

The lack of enthusiasm in local authorities is principally driven by the inescapable facts that in rural Ireland, "everybody" thinks a heritage railway would be a great idea, bit NOBODY is prepared to PAY for it; this, of course, introduces the local councillors who are influenced by their voters.

As long as there's a need to fix the bend in the road, refurb the GAA pitch, make a statute to the only famous person the town has ever had, house the homeless (very correctly so), and provide two new classrooms for the local school, no man-on-the-street would be remotely in favour of spendîng a solitary red cent on a heritage railway.

European grants..... no longer available in the north, and much more restricted now in the south as it is deemed one of the wealthy rather than poor EU countries.

Given our lack of population, mining industries and coal-based industry and the like, there isn't the same knowledge out there in the public domain as in Britain. Britain is twice the size of Ireland but has ten times the population, and an industrial past.

Sadly, public interest in railway heritage will never be anything but a small fraction of what prevails in Britain. C'est la vie!

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If GSRPS and Westrail had of worked together and combined forces, might things have worked out better?

 

 

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38 minutes ago, K801 said:

If GSRPS and Westrail had of worked together and combined forces, might things have worked out better?

 

 

I suspect the result would have been exactly the same, as the main problems were external matters which neither could influence.

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45 minutes ago, K801 said:

If GSRPS and Westrail had of worked together and combined forces, might things have worked out better?

 

 

None have a engine between them but Downpatrick including the (Traction group) work with RPSI is the best solution.

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13 minutes ago, Midland Man said:

None have a engine between them but Downpatrick including the (Traction group) work with RPSI is the best solution.

Mallow had several G classes, a Ruston or two, 131 (?), a steam crane, a railcar, a scammell thing (?) and a Hino  Just nowhere to run anything 

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Posted (edited)

131 is IRRS engines preserved so it could displayed at Mallow  tbut now the care of the RPSI who also have as well as 184 an 461 The G classes are all at Downpatrick own by the ITA or a one that is privitly owned.The rail car is probably the SLNCR rail car.That is in Inchacore last time I saw It There is also a NCC rail car at whitehead. The rest is probably at mallow or whitehead But I think the steam crane is at Downpatrick. The GSRPS have the ideas just not the stock they tried to reopen debit and loughrea branches but nothing came.

Edited by Midland Man

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Posted (edited)

The situation at Downpatrick is as follows.

Owned outright by DCDR; E421, E432 Steam Nos. 1 & 3,  GSWR No. 90.

Owned by a DCDR member: G613

Owned by ITG: G617, A39, B146.

Within the RPSI: 

Everything wholly RPSI-owned, except GNR Loco 85. In the case of this, the actual loco is owned by the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, but the tender is the RPSI’s.

I have not included rolling stock. Both own the majority of their rolling stock, but the RPSI’s State Saloon remains the property of IE, and the SLNCR railcar at Downpatrick is on permanent loan from IE.

The GSWR coach in Mullingar shed (No. 813) was never RPSI-owned, but is owned by a group of RPSI members and friends (11 in all).

Nothing was ever owned by the IRRS, though in the 1960s there was talk of CIE giving them 184. It never happened, as the IRRS is a historical society, not a loco or coach  preservation group.

131 was always owned by CIE / IE, even when at Mallow.

It only changed ownership to the RPSI when it went to Whitehead.

Edited by jhb171achill

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25 minutes ago, Midland Man said:

Is the carriage still in Mullingar because I was there and it seemed that the place was deserted.

Its locked up in the shed.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Midland Man said:

Pity it closed but why did it?

It's a sad fact of life that railway heritage railways seems to be harder to sustain in Ireland than some other areas, hence the financial issues. Some external factor outlined above certainly didn't help either.

The Foyle Valley Railway in Derry closed in 2015.
The Tralee and Blennerville Railway closed in 2006.
The Clonmacnoise and West Offaly Railway closed in 2008.
The Shane's Castle Railway ran from 1971 to 1995.
The Great Southern Railway Preservation Society, which attempted to set up a preserved line between Tralee and Fenit, but fell through in the early 1990s.
Westrail, which ran steam and diesel trains between Claremorris, Tuam, Athenry and Galway until 1993.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/152343870@N07/25186450107/in/photolist-25SEdQ9-e1gThp-EnD98M-8vKang

Athenry. No. 90 & train for Tuam departing. 27.7.91

Ballyglunin. No. 90 taking water. 27.7.91

I believe that 611 is owned by ITG and out of use but 617 may be operational at DCDR

Edited by DiveController
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34 minutes ago, K801 said:

where is G611 and G616?

611 is at Downpatrick - forgot to mention it; ITG owned. Basically, the ITG’s operational base is now, de facto, at Downpatrick, with their diesels featuring occasionally on public trains.

616 and 601 are at the ITG’s long-term restoration base at Carrick-on-Suir.

The ITG has two “C”s as well - one (C231) restored and more-or-less operational at Downpatrick and the other under restoration at Carrick-on-Suir.

The ITG also own several unrestored diesels at Carrick, and Moyasta, Co Clare - all in storage.

617 is indeed operational at Downpatrick and is often used to shunt or on PW trains.

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Posted (edited)

Summary of G’s:

G601 Class

G601 - stored by ITG, Carrick. Long term job. Some engine parts missing. Last of G601 class.

G602 - scrapped

G603 - scrapped

G611 Class

G611 - Preserved by ITG at Downpatrick. Currently out of traffic.

G612 - scrapped.

G613 - Privately owned by a DCDR member, at Downpatrick but currently out of traffic.

G614 - scrapped

G615 - scrapped

G616 - Owned by ITG, currently being restored at Carrick-on-Suir

G617 - Owned by ITG, in traffic on DCDR.

Edited by jhb171achill

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It can all be distilled down to lack of interest and the very small gene pool of people inclined to work and support such things.

There has always been an underlying current in this country that railway heritage isn't really Irish, that it's all a bit "foreign". If Richard Maunsell was an All Ireland hurler, I'm sure there would be a statue of him somewhere!

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