New ballast wagons arrive from Irish Rail

New ballast wagons arrive from Irish Rail

It was a busy few days for DCDR, as we took delivery of a four new (to us) wagons from Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) on Monday and Tuesday, with shunting taking place before public trains even finished on Saturday and all day Sunday as well.

These wagons are destined to help our Permanent Way gang keep our track up to standard, as well as help rehabilitate the currently mothballed ‘south line’ beyond Magnus’s Grave. This acquisition demonstrates our commitment to maintaining our track to the best standard possible, as well as ultimately being used for the extension to Ballydugan by giving us better tools for maintenance.

The wagons are three ballast hoppers, which can hold up to 20 tonnes of stone (known as ballast) that is deposited on the railway line to hold the track in place and give a good smooth ride when tamped. The fourth wagon is a special brake van which has an underfloor plough fitted that then spreads this stone to where it’s needed. The wagons give much higher capacity than our trusty Daisy dumper or ballast regulator, though these still have their place for smaller and more precise jobs.

These particular hoppers were built by CIÉ and Parsons Ltd in the 1970s, and ran all across the Irish Rail network until their withdrawal in 2013. These wagons were parked up in Dublin’s North Wall yard where they remained for the last nine years until they were finally sanctioned for scrap. At that point the DCDR got in and asked if a number of the best ones could be kept aside for us.

Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Jim Meade said:

As custodians of the railway, we are acutely aware of the importance of rail heritage.  We are fortunate on this island that we have a community of professional and dedicated organisations such as Downpatrick & County Down Railway who are committed to preserving our rail heritage.  It was a pleasure to work with D&CDR who have now taken ownership of three ballast wagons and a ballast plough from ourselves, and we look forward to seeing their use by the team in Downpatrick for many years to come.

They were delivered by Railway Support Services Ltd over the last two days, so if you were stuck behind the convoy and wondered what these were, now you know! They will be back again next week, with more secret new toys for us…

We are very impressed with the condition of these wagons and they will need little work to bring them into service – certainly the sight of ballast being ploughed will be pretty impressive. As well as being useful tools, we hope these might become interesting exhibits in their own right.

Our sincere thanks to the team at Irish Railway Models who have offered to support the cost of transport, as well as one of our volunteers who funded the purchase of them, and of course as Irish Rail and Railway Support Services as well.