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Unread 06-01-2018, 09:03   #1
Eddie
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Default Too many staff?

Travelled last week one day on the 16.25 Waterford to Linerick Junction train.

About 40-50 odd people I'd say used the service - more than I expected.

One thing that struck me was the number of Irish Rail staff I saw eg manning level crossings adjacent to the stations. How many are there for the 4 trains that go each day? I would have thought key to this line's survival would be complete automation with the only staff required being a driver and a guard to collect fares.
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Unread 06-01-2018, 18:28   #2
Jamie2k9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie View Post
Travelled last week one day on the 16.25 Waterford to Linerick Junction train.

About 40-50 odd people I'd say used the service - more than I expected.

One thing that struck me was the number of Irish Rail staff I saw eg manning level crossings adjacent to the stations. How many are there for the 4 trains that go each day? I would have thought key to this line's survival would be complete automation with the only staff required being a driver and a guard to collect fares.
Yes this and Limerick-BallyB have a lot of staff required to operate crossings, signalling on these lines. Automation of crossings is circa €1m per crossing and suspect the old signalling system under local control would create problems automating crossings.

In recent years Limerick J-Tipp Town has come under central control but that was probably the easiest section to address at low cost.

The reason there is no services during the day on both regional lines is they operate a split shift, operating during the day would result in two separate shifts for staff.
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Unread 07-01-2018, 01:48   #3
Eddie
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Interesting ... so this is why you see massive subsidies per passenger journeys on some of these lines. You bring in low revenues, in part because you only operate twice a day and you operate twice a day because you don't make the capital investment to automate the signalling and crossings.

Presumably Wexford to Waterford also relied on a similar workforce, and the high per passenger subsidy was a key reason for its demise?

Are there other higher frequency lines that rely on significant staff numbers to operate the service?

I've had a look a 2011 census and Clonmel which is on this line would appear to be one of the most populated towns in Ireland (18,000) that has an existing station but with the least frequent train service. On the other hand, for its 8,000 inhabitants, Thurles must have one of the best. My guess would be that a frequent fast link from Clonmel to Limerick Junction to connect with Cork and Dublin trains would significantly increase rail useage from the town.
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Unread 07-01-2018, 15:43   #4
Jamie2k9
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Most of lines have only the odd attended crossing (roughly Waterford 2, Cork 4, Limerick 3) while I think Sligo, WRC, Tralee are now fully automated. With funding issues conversion to automatic has almost stopped, many 1-2 a year now where it would of been much higher towards end of 2000's. One person per shift been able to control each route's crossings is a big saving.

Yes Waterford/Rosslare had the same problem and it's difficult to balance service improvements and costs.

Most people go to Limerick J, Kilenny or Waterford to take the train from South Tipp, it would probably make no difference if they routed towards Limerick J or Waterford in terms of journey times.
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Unread 08-01-2018, 09:48   #5
comcor
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I can't find a link to this now, but I have a memory that when Waterford-Rosslare closed it was reported that it was losing €4m a year of which €2.5m was the cost of manual level crossings. It seems a bit high considering there were only 12 crossings of public roads on the route.

Although it's more expensive than automating a crossing, surely the ideal is to build a bridge as it doesn't require signalling adjustments. Although it's not always going to be practical (e.g. the old Bridgetown crossing on Rosslare-Waterford was right in the middle of the village) and is made harder by the fact that crossing-keeper's cottages were often built next to the line.
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Unread 08-01-2018, 12:02   #6
Mark Gleeson
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Level crossings are being replaced but its working through based on priority and also future plans. So if there are plans to build a bridge or close a road the manual gates remain (see Maynooth line)

So Dublin Rosslare/Galway/Westport/Waterford should be 100% automatic. Dublin Cork has a small number left which are being slowly eliminated.

The capital cost is about 1 million each and an ongoing maintenance cost, its generally rolled into the capital cost of signalling upgrades

Last edited by Mark Gleeson : 08-01-2018 at 12:19.
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Unread 08-01-2018, 14:41   #7
Goods
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Running down the service is step one and then the drop in passenger numbers is used as a reason to reduce volume on the line and finally closure is next. The only country where auto crossings appear as an issue is Ireland , abroad in many countries including France there is hardly a fencing along the lines yet here because of legal interests in running into court rail lines are protected in the extreme. Waterford to Rosslare was an important link, then again I suppose Cork to Rosslare was too before that closed as well.
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Unread 08-01-2018, 15:32   #8
comcor
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Mallow to Rosslare

If it had gone Cork-Waterford-Rosslare, a Cork-Waterford section would probably still be hanging on, in the same way that Limerick Junction-Waterford is. Unfortunately, as Youghal was built as a terminus station, in a location where it was next to impossible to cross the Blackwater, a Cork-Waterford link was never possible by joining Youghal to Dungarvan, and splitting after Midleton to go via Lismore would have been second only to Bray Head in terms of Irish railway engineering challenges.
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Unread 08-01-2018, 21:48   #9
ACustomer
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Mallow-Waterford had literally dozens and dozens of level crossings which would sooner or later have killed it off. Great for scenery, but not much regular passenger potential.
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Unread 09-01-2018, 14:28   #10
Goods
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On the contrary this was the route linking Kerry/Cork to Rosslare and vice versa and was also a fast freight route to a port. The line was heavily used during the beet season moving beet from the rich south east to the sugar factory in Mallow all linked directly to the factory by rail. In our brains we shut down all the beet factories and now import sugar, a double loss. Along the route you had busy towns like Fermoy, Lismore, Cappaquin, Dungarvan and Waterford. The route ran along the spectacular Blackwater and was a treasure and would have had value today in taking container freight off the roads. Mindless destruction of national asset.
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Unread 09-01-2018, 16:27   #11
comcor
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The beet went via Limerick Junction. I believe Mallow-Dungarvan closed in 1967, when beet from the South-East would have gone to Carlow (or maybe even another site back then).

Anyway, the status of long-closed lines shouldn't really be the point of this thread. The discussion should focus more on areas where capital expenditure can be used to reduce operational expenditure and improve the viability of marginal lines.
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Unread 09-01-2018, 17:32   #12
Goods
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Google YouTube and see the beet trains on the line to Mallow.
On capital expenditure, the idea that auto gates cost a million each seems to be a bit rich or else we are doing it the Irish way like the motorways where the cost is out of proportion. Change should have been gradual over the years and factored in for the life of the line. In the same way as electricity infrastructure is costed it’s about the cost over the lifetime of the asset rather than the current cost.
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Unread 09-01-2018, 20:04   #13
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The main purpose of Waterford-Mallow since about 1906 was Rosslare Boat traffic, especially the Rosslare Express. This is from another era, and there is not much point in wasting energy on nostalgia for a beautiful line.

Maybe Goods has a point about the cost of automated crossings. It appears that CCTV monitored and fully signalled 4-barrier crossings are the standard. There are very widely used automatic half-barrier crossings which should be perfectly OK for a fraction of the cost (unless of course you cant trust Irish drivers going round them in pursuit of a Darwin award)
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Unread 10-01-2018, 13:12   #14
Jamie2k9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACustomer View Post
The main purpose of Waterford-Mallow since about 1906 was Rosslare Boat traffic, especially the Rosslare Express. This is from another era, and there is not much point in wasting energy on nostalgia for a beautiful line.

Maybe Goods has a point about the cost of automated crossings. It appears that CCTV monitored and fully signalled 4-barrier crossings are the standard. There are very widely used automatic half-barrier crossings which should be perfectly OK for a fraction of the cost (unless of course you cant trust Irish drivers going round them in pursuit of a Darwin award)
We had half barriers here for a while. Full barriers save a lot of potential problems and are the way to go. There are a lot of LC incidents in the UK annually, something which isn't the case here.
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Unread 10-01-2018, 15:26   #15
ACustomer
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Half barriers (operating automatically on the approach of a train) are used all over Europe and North America, especially on low-traffic and medium-to-low speed routes. Why is Ireland so special? Dopey drivers or hyper-litigious culture or civil servants with no regard for economic solutions?

They even have them in Northern Ireland!
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Unread 10-01-2018, 16:36   #16
Jamie2k9
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Quote:
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Half barriers (operating automatically on the approach of a train) are used all over Europe and North America, especially on low-traffic and medium-to-low speed routes. Why is Ireland so special? Dopey drivers or hyper-litigious culture or civil servants with no regard for economic solutions?

They even have them in Northern Ireland!
I'm not arguing with the effectiveness but full are safer.

Network Rail admit they are the most dangerous type of level crossing and there would be strict conditions where such barriers could operate. You are not going to save massive amounts of money just increase the number of near misses.
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