Hello, and welcome to my personal review of photographic highlights of 2016. This part 2 covers May to August and all aspects - rail, bus and air - but hopefully with something to interest everyone. I have not covered all newsworthy happenings by any means, but have seen some interesting workings and a couple of unique and unusual items over the year; but I hope the collection gives a feel for the year - both the ordinary, and the less usual.
Obviously these are only a small selection of the shots uploaded over the year. These pages are arranged so that if you click on one of the images, the gallery it is from will open up. In most cases, this will cover the day and category - eg the first image will open a gallery of rail photographs from 3rd May.
Enjoy the pictures - and feel free to comment on any of my feeds (Facebook, Twitter or E-Mail) if you have any comment or queries.
Two new liveries on display at the beginning of the month, and all three current 071 liveries through Portlaoise.
New month - new livery! 231 is fitted for working into Northern Ireland on the Enterprise, but was not included in the overhaul and repaint programme for the new Enterprise livery. However, it appeared at the end of April in this new, "general" livery designed to not look too out of place whether on Enterprise, Cork or freight duties.
It is seen on the 3rd May passing Rosskelton with it's first working, an 0950 Heuston - Killarney charter - itself a first as the first working of mark 4 stock in passenger service down the Kerry line following earlier route clearance work.
New month - new (old!) livery! As part of the celebrations of the 40th Anniversary of the delivery of the 071s, the doyen of the class was painted into more or less original livery, in time for the diesel leg of the RPSI International tour.
The sun wasn't really playing for a northbound train at this time of day, but here we see the gleaming loco as it heads back to Dublin with the return leg of the RPSI "Class 071 40th Anniversary" tour on the 13th.
JJ Kavanagh have long operated Setra coaches on their services, but with the decision of Mercedes-Benz to cease offering the marque in right hand drive form, an alternative has been required.
Here Neoplan 12-KK-786 arrives with the 0900 Limerick - Dublin Airport working on the 24th. While the coaches are liveried as JJ Kavanagh, the route is licenced to, and operated by coaches on, the associated licence of Kenneallys, Waterford.
Most passenger trains through Portlaoise are formed by the ubiquitous ICR sets. The 63 sets are maintained at the local Laois Traincare depot, which has meant that a the local stopping services are used as a means of getting sets to and from Dublin. As a result, some of the local services can be well provided with seats for the traffic on offer!
Here sets 22008+22063 approach the station from the depot in order to form the 1022 stopping service to Dublin Heuston on the 31st.
The presence of the PW yard and sleeper plant in Portlaoise lead to regular loco movements on associated workings - in fact they are the only non-passenger workings through the town, with freight heading to and from the Mayo branch at Portarlington.
Here 073 is seen passing the station before entering the yard on the 31st. In the black and silver livery, it is looking somewhat work worn, but whether it gets another overhaul may depend on the proposed 201 class re-engining programme.
As a contrast, also on the 31st is newly overhauled 080, seen departing the yard into the station loop with a 1030 Portlaoise - North Wall materials train.
An unusual rescue, and altered services bring the rare sight of 2800s in service in Portlaoise to start. An ex Dublin Bus, rail engineering work and a loco in undercoat make up the rest of the months offerings.
On June 3rd, the 1220 Cork - Heuston failed prior to departure. A change of loco from 232 to standby 231 failed to resolve the issue, and the train was cancelled - it was subsequently found that it was the control car that was at fault. It was decided to haul the set up with the standby loco, giving the unusual sight of a 201 coupled to the pointed end of a mark 4 rake!
The train ran as a 1530 Cork - Inchicore empty, and is seen approaching Portlaoise station.
On several Saturdays of the year engineering work has seen single line working on sections of the Cork main line. When this has been between Heuston and Portlaoise, Cork and Galway line services have run two-hourly, with lengthened 8 car ICR sets. However, such sets cannot call at Ballybrophy, the connection point for the line to Limerick via Nenagh.
As a result, the branch set has reversed at Ballybrophy, then continued in service to Portlaoise. To compound things, thanks to the layout here the set then continued empty to Portarlington to reverse, before following the Cork train back to Portlaoise and re-enter service.
Here we see 2802+2801 on the 11th having completed this convoluted manoeuvre, and picking up passengers for the run via the branch with the 1830 Portlaoise - Limerick. Hopefully any Limerick passengers remained on the Cork train - changing at Limerick Junction would save them a considerable amount of time!
An unusual visitor parked up at Midway Services! This former Dublin Bus Olympian 99-D-587 had apparently been working on the K-Coach service of Whelan, Kildangan between Monasterevin and Naas, a route which competes with both Dublin Coach and the PSO supported Bus Éireann 126.
It is seen here on the 14th June, and stayed for several days. It's livery is a fairly crude modification of the Dublin Bus livery, and there was evidence of past ownership by Callinan, Claregalway.
The "Beast" at work! One of the largest items of plant in use on Iarnród Éireann is 781, a ballast cleaner.
It has seen plenty of use this year, with an ongoing programme to clean and replace spent ballast on the Cork main line. It is seen here on the 18th at Ratheven, just over a mile Dublin-side of Portlaoise. Unlike so often in the UK, single line running was maintained on the other track with a two-hourly Dublin - Cork service maintained. Only the last up Cork suffered bus substitution.
It finally succumbed! After hanging on to the old Enterprise livery, 233 finally entered the workshops for overhaul and repaint, and emerged in the "general" livery pioneered by 231.
It is seen here on the 25th, propelling the 1635 Charleville - Heuston - foreshortened due to engineering work between there and Mallow.
At the same time as 233 was in, the other loco in the new livery was also due through on the 1705 Heuston - Charleville, which was not booked to call at Portlaoise. The fates smiled on me, and both locos were caught together.
The yellow ends are a noticeably different shade; this is not a photographic effect, it was quite noticeable at the time.
After sitting in Inchicore for some time having been overhauled and undercoated, 216 was allowed out for a short period on freight services to bed in, prior to final painting for the forthcoming Belmond Luxury Train.
Having missed it a few days previously, I made sure I was there to get it on this occasion! The loco passes through Portarlington in poor weather with the Ballina - Waterford timber service on the 27th.
080 was a loco which largely eluded me, and then spent a long period in Inchicore. Happily it was re-instated to service after overhaul, but inevitably in "Battleship" grey; and it seems to be attracted to my camera!
The loco had been unique in having rainstrips above the cab windows at one end, but as part of the overhaul these have been removed and the loco is now standard. It is seen waiting for the road west with a liner service on 27th June.
Some unusual buses in Portlaoise, and the weedspray, but the main additions from a three day visit to Dublin and Bray for the Airshow. Highlights include the oldest Dublin Bus in service, an elderly Bus Éireann, a sotred high-flying loco, a very old airliner and a very new one!
Occasionally, tour buses avoid the delights of Midway services, and bring their passengers into Portlaoise town centre to avail of the facilities there - more variety, and rather cheaper than the services. On this occasion (5th July), a coach based in Langley Mill arrived; a few miles from where I lived prior to moving to Ireland.NH06HAM is a Setra S416GT-HD, and is operating a tour to the west of Ireland from the English Midlands. The driver was quite chatty as we whiled away a few minutes!
A real surprise on the 6th! The 73 wasn't showing on the realtime app, so I thought it might be an SP. I was therefore very pleased when this turned up! Rohan Transport 03-LD-644 picks up at the Meehan Court stop with the 0910 Athlone - Waterford, operating on hire to Bus Éireann. The body is a fairly unusual Ayats Atlantis, a type I am not familiar with, and to me at least quite a strange looking beast.
The weedspray does regular rounds on the network in an attempt to keep the lines clear, and more importantly the ballast free to drain effectively. Here we see 077 on 7/7, arriving back at Portlaoise from Claremorris after an eventful day in Mayo. Originally planned to run Claremorris - Ballina - Portlaoise, failure of a ballast cleaner on the Mayo line caused chaos, and it was decided to cut the losses and miss the Ballina leg. An additional run was later undertaken to cover that section.
When spraying, the loco carries two square boards with black and yellow diagonal stripes to warn anyone trackside to stand well clear, but to my disappointment these were not on display on this trip, and in fact I still haven't caught the train showing them.
Bus Éireann were still short of vehicles on the 19th, and Rohan were again called in to deputise. This time Caetano bodied Volvo 06-C-40362 was on duty, and is again seen picking up at the Meehan Court stop.
Seen from a passing train at Inchicore on the 23rd, the pioneer 201 class locomotive is seen at the head of a line of stored locomotives, alongside also stored railcar 2724. Both are victims of the financial crash and subsequent surfeit of power; the 201s lost their passenger workings with the switch to ICRs, and the reduction in traffic led to the less than reliable 2700s being stored.
As 2016 came to an end, both classes were possibly in the frame for a revival. As the economy picks up, the ICR fleet is becoming overstretched, especially with the introduction of the Phoenix Park Tunnel services, and is also being used on unsuitable suburban runs on many lines, including the aforementioned PPT service but also the M3 Parkway shuttle. As a result, rumours abound that the 2700 Class will be brought back into service to release ICRs to do what they were designed for - whether directly or via some sort of cascade of the 2800 Class is unclear.
The 201s are less certain, but there are plans to re-engine them to improve both fuel consumption and emissions, neither of which are up to modern standards with the GM 710 engine. Options for up to 32 locos were included in the tender for the work, but no decision has been made publicly as to whether the project will proceed.
First Aircoach use a pale blue for their general livery. A slightly darker blue adorns this Plaxton bodied Volvo B11R which is advertising Leinster Rugby.
In a rather congested Parnell Square East on the 23rd July, 152-D-8662 is seen on one of the shuttle services from the Airport to South County Dublin - in this case Leopardstown. Aircoach continue to provide high floor coaches for this work, whereas Dublin Bus have long used low floor accessible vehicles on their services.
Given the cramped conditions at Busáras, coaches with a layover cannot wait there without totally jamming operations. Bus Éireann - and others - therefore use Sheriff St, off Amiens St and adjacent the rear of Connolly station. In this gloomy area it is often possible to see several vehicles parked up.
Here we see Barrys Coaches 07-C-24231 between trips on the 23rd, liveried up for GoBÉ, a joint venture between Bus Éireann and GoBus, which operates a Dublin - Cork non-stop service. The JV arrangement allows it to use the bus stations in both Dublin and Cork - a luxury not available to other private operators.
206 seems to be attracting some attention as it prepares to couple to the coaches forming the 1650 to Belfast Central on the 23rd. The service has settled down now after a very shaky start post refurbishment, which at one stage included banning of the stock being used after a series of issues.
206 had replaced 227 which had arrived on the inbound service.
In 2015, as part of an event celebrating Irish Design, several vehicles were given liveries created by notable people in the design and styling industry. Here we see SE23 on the 23rd in Busáras, ready to work a service to Sligo.
Now I tend to be a practical person, and not supporting style over substance. It appears that the brief gave no account of the requirements of passengers to see out of the windows clearly, hence the use of solid blocks of colour across virtually all of the passenger windows. I wouldn't mind betting that they asked if it was possible to do the same with the windscreen! For all the plaudits for contravision, it severely impedes the view out - an inconvenience or annoyance for most passengers, a real issue for those with any kind of visual impairment. Still, they got mentioned in trendy papers and magazines, so that's alright ;)
Back at Connolly, 072 had brought the RPSI Cravens stock round from Inchicore on the 23rd, prior to a steam special the next day. Evoking memories of times past, the 071 could have just arrived from Sligo or Belfast!
Coming strictly in the "everyday" category, but quite rare for me! 8314 leads a six car set in the centre road at Bray on the 24th. Although it was a Sunday, the Bray Airshow meant that it was one of the busiest days of the year on the DART, and all sets were augmented, with additional services running to boot.
I have to admit to chickening out and getting a Rosslare service down from Dublin; full and standing, but at least not calling everywhere and getting fuller on the way!
The reason for the long weekend in the capital was to attend the Bray Airshow. Here we see Irish Air Corp 279 displaying in front of the 90,000+ visitors who got a great show on the day, and weather that played ball for a change!
The Red Arrows were limited by cloudbase to putting on a "flat" show, with fewer of the loops and climbs normally associated with their displays. Nonetheless, it was an impressive sight! Here, the synchro pair do a fast pass along the flightline.
Cityjet took tho opportunity to showcase their newly arrived Sukhoi Superjet 100, a replacement for their venerable fleet of Avro RJ85 aircraft.The first two aircraft have been used largely on charter work, including some high profile jobs such as flying the Irish Rugby team to the World Cup. Their deployment into scheduled service is dependent on getting clearance for the steep approach into London City, without which they would be severely limited on the network.
It is quite brave to use a Russian designed aircraft on services for the premium customers more associated with London City airport; it was noticeable that the press release majored on the Western credentials of the aircraft far more than its Russian origins! Still, let's hope the fleet is successful into the future.
From the new to the old, and one of my favourite shots from the show.
This is not a monochrome shot, but the grey cloud and the silver and black aircraft give it a feeling of a vintage photograph. De Havilland Dragon DH89 EI-ABI is seen during its display on the 24th. It is of course the second aircraft to carry this registration - a unique situation on the Irish register. The original was the first Aer Lingus aircraft to fly a commercial service, but was lost in world war 2. This aircraft has been restored by the national airline, and is operated by their Charitable Foundation.
My first sighting of this aircraft flying - having seen it taxi but apparently cancel its first flight in Dublin a few years back!
The slightly bizarre shape of the Saab Draken is seen in Swedish Air Force colours during its excellent display. Plenty of noise and action, and closer to the crowdline than the Viggen which preceded it.
The Italian display team Frecce Tricolori had an advantage over the Reds in that the cloudbase had cleared, so they were able to put on a very full display. This was livened up further by a somewhat manic commentator for the team - an Italian lady who lived up to the excitable national stereotype, and indeed lapsed into Italian on several occasions during the display!
The team undertake a formation loop during their display. I believe this is the last season with these aircraft, with replacement jets being used next year.
John McGinley made a bold statement in 2014 when they acquired 8 of these brand new Volvo B11R / Jonckheeres in a very stylish version of their colours.
Here we see 141-DL-1525 on the 25th, resting between duties on Parnell Square West. These distinctive vehicles operate across the island of Ireland sand into the UK and beyond.
Also seen on Parnell Square West on the 25th is this Wrightbus Gemini bodied Volvo. Traditionally, open toppers shave been older buses, converted after a life on normal service work, and Dualway have several of these. However, tightening supply of older deckers, and a need to cater for the less mobile, has resulted in several operators buying vehicles built specifically for these services.
This is not a new idea; in the UK several operators bought "convertible" buses where the roof could be removed in the summer, and replaced in the winter according to traffic demand, but modern open top tours seem to operate all year round so a permanent open top vehicle can be justified.
The commemoration of the Rising in 1916 prompted several bespoke tours to operate visiting sites associated with the battles. This is the Dublin Bus effort, a converted AX544, seen on O'Connell St a stones throw for the epicentre of those dramatic events of a century ago at the GPO.
There is clearly a market for all of these tours, but you do wonder if and when saturation point will be reached!
The current purchases at Dublin Bus are the SG class, Wrightbus Gemini bodied Volvos. At the time of writing, there are 268 of these and serious inroads are taking place in the AV and AX classes.
Here we see one of the newest at the time, SG190 negotiating the LUAS works on O'Connell St on the 25th with a 123 service to Marino. Dublin Bus have managed to persuade Wrightbus to modify the screens with an angle, to reduce the endemic problem of interior reflections at night prevalent on all modern designs with big, flat vertical screens. Another case of style over practicality, and well done Dublin Bus!
The eastern terminus of the LUAS system is The Point, serving Docklands and the Three Arena (or whatever its current ad inspired title is!). Here we see 4002 having arrived from Tallaght, preparing to return there via the City Centre, on the 25th July.
4002 was originally built for, and used on the Green Line from Stephens Green, and was a long vehicle from new. Growth on the Green Line and extensions to the Red Line resulted in the 4000s being cascaded, with the even longer 5000 series trams introduced on the Green Line.
077 again! My first time down at Alexander Dock Road to witness the regular street tramway movement of the Tara Mines traffic from Navan. This is the 0920 from Navan.
071s are still required for this run as the run-round arrangements in the port for these trains do not allow longer locos to be used. There are rumours of redevelopment which would remove this restriction, which would give a further impetus to the 201 class re-engining programme, allowing the withdrawal of the ageing 071s.
Quite a surprise caught us on Berresford Place! VP344 is labelled for schools, but is seen here operating on service 32 from Monaghan. VPs are very rare on service work, and this must be one of the oldest Bus Éireann vehicles operating such duties.
It appeared that is was not a one off, as several subsequent reports were seen of it on the route.
29000s have not yet featured in this review, so here we seen 29008 approaching a crowded platform 7 with the xxxx Pearse - Maynooth service.
An appropriate use of resources?
This is M3 Parkway, and train is a shuttle from and to Clonsilla. Now granted we were travelling mid afternoon, but we were part of a complement of a handful of users on this particular service, and the car park did not hold hopes that even peak hour journeys would be well loaded. The problem is that the journey into Dublin is slow, involves a change of train most of the time, and motorway users from further out have to pay the toll anyway.
From a railway perspective, this is actually the shortest length train available to the operators on the Connolly side - hence a 100mph railcar spends its day carrying fresh air on a 6 mile branchline. Hopefully if the 2700 units are re-activated, twin sets (or even the bi-cabs) wold be ideal for this service.
Eirebus have introduced this attractive livery on coaches used on their popular Swords Express service. Here we see Caetano Levante bodied 09-D-124955 laying over on Eden Quay, with a Irizar just behind in the same livery.
The biggest vehicles in the Dublin Bus fleet are the 70 VT Class B9TLs with Alexander Dennis / Transbus ALX500 bodywork.
One of the first batch, VT23 is seen on Marine Road in Dun Laoghaire on the 25th, having just departed from the railway station with a 46A for Dublin.
Returning from Dun Laoghaire to Heuston, we alighted from the DART at Pearse and aimed for a bus, rather than brave the peak hour LUAS. To our delight, the oldest Dublin Bus in service turned up, and provided a pleasant, if traffic delayed, journey back to St Johns Rd on a 66 to Maynooth.
It is seen here after we alighted. By the end of the year, it had been withdrawn from service along with most of the class in the face of the SG onslaught.
Another trip to the UK, with "typical" Irish summer weather at the airport; a heritage bus livery in Nottingham; and the first runs of the Belmond Grand Hibernian.
August started with a trip over to the UK to visit relatives. In the early hours of the 2nd, we see a GoBus liveried Volvo 161-G-4474 of Cummer Coaches at the airport.
Probably the highlight of what was seen while waiting for the morning East Midlands flight was this Saudi Airbus A330, HZ-AQU, seen through the mist and murk as it headed round to the hangars for maintenance. At least it was light enough to get some sort of shot - and yes, this was August!
The extension of the Nottingham tram network meant that new trams were required. To progress the extension, a new concession was let, and Alstom rather than Bombardier were part of the successful consortium, with TrentBarton replacing NCT as the operating partner.
As a result, rather than a follow on order for the existing type, Alstom Citadis trams were procured for the expansion. This means the relatively small system has two completely different types of vehicle, with all the implications for spares and training which that entails. I'm sure the financiers made their bonuses though!
A comparison of the two types is seen here on the 4th in the city centre.
The main reason for going into town was to get a shot of this bus. Repainted to commemorate 50 years since the closure of the trolleybus system, 676 is seen on Milton St with a route 69 to Snape Wood via Bulwell.
I acknowledge the help of the NCT Fleetnews Facebook page in advising the roster this bus was on for the day!
We returned to Ireland on the 7th. Sunday is not the best day at East Midlands, but cargo was still evident. DHL G-DHKB climbs away into the sunset.
A sight no longer possible. For a period of about a year, Stobart Air under the Aer Lingus Regional banner operated a daily rotation between Dublin and East Midlands. The "carrot" was supposed to be hassle free connections to the US via Dublin and its pre-clearance system, but EMA was obviously well down the priority list, and there were virtually no sensible connections that did not involve overnight stays in Ireland. Given that a single 72 seat ATR was uncompetitive for point to point traffic with two Ryanair 737s daily, it was no surprise when the service finished at the end of October.
EI-FAS arrives from Dublin and taxies in, running almost parallel with the Ryanair equivalent (but much slower, and about twice the price when we booked!)
Watching Planefinder to see what was arriving, I was surprised to see the sole Ryanair 737-700 on the inbound working from Dublin. Seeing no alternative aircraft on the ground, my hopes were raised that this would form the return flight - and so it proved!
The aircraft is used as a charter and semi-corporate jet, but in the Summer and other busty times is pressed into service on Ireland - UK rotations. It is seen here while we waited to board as flight FR537 to Dublin.
Back on Iarnród Éireann, the big news of August was the build up to service of the Belmond Grand Hibernian luxury touring train, consisting of an overhauled and repainted loco and rebuilt for IÉ mark 3 stock. Carrying a maximum of 40 passengers, the prices are somewhat beyond the average gricer!
Here we see 216 on 11th August head south through Portlaoise with the delayed 0820 Heuston - Mallow test train, consisting of a shortened rake of the stock (one of each type I believe). This was the first daylight test - some nighttime testing had already been undertaken.
A welcome surprise on the 15th was the Sperry train out again, with 080 providing the power. The signalling and track layout at Portlaoise means that traffic from the PW yard has to run wrong line through the station before crossing over at the north end. The weather has improved since earlier in the month!
Variety continued on the 73!
Here we see former Galway SP62, still carrying most of the branding for the X20 Galway - Dublin Airport service, picking up in Portlaoise. This cascaded vehicle on a PSO service is newer than several of the SPs that appeared on the X12 over the Summer!
After missing several test workings due to variable timekeeping, I finally got shots of the full Belmond rake on the 16th. Frustratingly, it was not blue 216 but freshly painted 215 at the helm, as 216 was undergoing rectification work. The irony was not lost on me; when I was commuting, 215 regularly turned up when, and as a result is the second-highest mileage loco for me in Ireland.The train crawls into Portlaoise following the 1320 Portlaoise - Heuston which was still clearing the section North of the station.
The week before the first public working, a full dress test was undertaken of the whole weeks route. Again 216 was unavailable, and 231 provides another different livery adorning the hauling loco.
The 0820 Charleville - Galway leg passes Portlaoise on the 25th.
All the planning and preparation culminated in the first passenger carrying run of the Belmond on 30th August. The tour was actually a private charter by a group of Americans whose hobby is travelling on trains of this sort. Let's hope they fed some of their ample dollars into the local communities they called at!
There was a press call at Heuston prior to departure, and 216 was at the head of the train. Press coverage extended well beyond the shores of Ireland. 216 was not however deemed ready to work the tour, and was removed in favour of a gleaming, newly overhauled 226. I believe this was its first main line run since receiving attention, so there may have been a few nerves at the start of the trip!
The 1420 Heuston - Cork Belmond Grand Hibernian is seen passing Portlaoise on a sparkling day.