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Timetabled ballast trains in the 90's

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Looking at my 1992 WT it strikes me that I can only find a single pair of explicitly timetabled ballast workings. One empty train departed Athlone 07.25, arrived Portarlington 08.29, departed Portarlington 08.41, arrived Lisduff (quarry) at 09.35. The return laden working departing 11.15 and arriving in Athlone at 13.55.

Is this the only timetabled working of a ballast train or have I just missed others?

Why was this particular working timetabled? 

Did it always run?

Was the train unloaded in Athlone or just stabled there for use elsewhere on the network?


Edited by murphaph
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Yeah I found it strange to imagine that they would have been sure that they'd need ballast every week.

Still if anyone has any more details about other timetabled workings elsewhere or in other years I'd love to hear about them. Or about this working.

Interestingly the timetable entry is "real". That is it's not a "path" in the WT which they could easily have made it (like the best trains were). Possibly just an oversight?

Maybe it did always run but sometimes only took a small quantity?

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Its possible a timetabled Athlone-Lisduff ballast train was included following the closure of Lecarrow Quarry on the Mayo Line to allow the Athlone Division ballast trains to run through to Lisduff.

The Athlone Division would have been responsible for track maintenance on the lines West of Athlone and possibly the Portarlington Branch.

A timetabled working may have been introduced to avoid pathing difficulties on the single line Portarlington-Athlone line particularly if the train ran more that two or three times a week. 

Not sure if Train Control would have been exactly happy with reversing a ballast train at Portarlington and sending it down the main line at one of the busier times of day with a flotilla of East Bound Liner trains and South and Westbound Intercity passenger services. Port was barely in the Commuter belt at the time with a single early morning Athlone-Heuston and Cork-Heuston passenger services.

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25 minutes ago, murphaph said:

Were there other quarries from where ballast was sourced or just Lisduff and Lecarrow?

In latter years there were only the two Quarries which were served as mentioned above. Once Lecarrow closed Lisduff was the last quarry owned(?) by CIE and ceased operations sometime in the 1990s at which point Lisduff was designated as a loading point with ballast being brought in by road from nearby quarries. 

Ballast has been loaded at numerous points throughout the network, and almost all lines have designated loading points / sidings, which is a lot more efficient than running trains for miles from the likes of Lecarrow & Lisduff. When ballasting work is required the Hoppers tended to stable at the loading points and carry out work in the area, before moving on to the next location for work. 

For example if ballasting was required between say Kildare and Portarlington the hoppers would be based in Portarlington where they were loaded, then run to Kildare, run round and work back to Portarlington to re-load before repeating the process until the work within the area is complete. Let's say the next area for ballasting was Malahide, the hoppers would then be worked from Portarlington - Dublin's North Wall Freight terminal where they would then be based & loaded up until the work in Malahide was complete before moving onto wherever they were needed next.  

Edit: As regards T/Ts for the likes of freight & PW trains paths are inserted more to facilitate moves as and when they are required, as Mayner pointed out it was probably put in place to cater for the Western Division Hoppers running to/from Lisduff as and when the need arose. You may also notice several paths in the T/T for say cement or liner trains, but needless to say they didn't all run on the same day, rather depending on customer / operational requirements the train may have ran in an early or late path depending. 

Edited by Vlak
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