© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
A year after the trip that didn't go to Sligo or Cork,
another Irish tour was advertised - "The Bell Viewer"
seemed to be named after the Bell container depots
that we would pass on the trip around the south-
eastern part of Ireland. Once again, my son needed no
persuasion - "can we go on that one, dad?". After the
usual trip across from Holyhead on the ferry, we joined
the tour at Dun Laoghaire - no DART today! We would
run down the mostly coastal route to Rosslare, then head
west via Waterford to Carrick on Suir, home to the Irish
Traction Group's collection of rusty old diesels... (I'm sure
they're not rusty now) Like the Sligo Avoider, this trip is
described in full on the Trips 'n Tours pages, so I'll cheat
again and quote from that article, starting from the point
where we passed through Wexford...
"Wexford is reputed to be Eire's equivalent of the Weymouth
Quay branch - except that it sees regular use, being in effect a
main line through the streets! Our route onwards to Rosslare
Harbour runs along this stretch, which is definitely an interesting
stretch of railway. For several hundred yards, the street is on
one side and the sea literally (litorally?) on the other.
"We had never really regained the 15 minutes lost at Wicklow,
however a quick run-round at the old Harbour Pier station at
Rosslare meant we arrived on time at Rosslare Strand, junction
for the line to Waterford, after retracing our steps for a short
distance. We crossed a Rosslare bound train here, before leaving
a little late again on the line westwards.
"Next stop, and in some respects a highlight of the trip, was the
station at Wellington Bridge. There is a substantial installation
here for loading local sugar beet into trains for delivery to the
factory at Mallow, and we were able to gain an insight into the
methods employed. A "beetle" - a small wagon - is connected to
a cable running between the rails, and is used for positioning
wagons under the loading gantry. Loading was in progress, it
being the "campaign" season, and a large number of beet
wagons, which look as though made from corrugated iron, were
present. Also present was no. 051, on beet duties, but relieved
of them for a while - our loco for the next stage of the journey.
(An earlier tour this way carried "The Beet Route" headboard.)
(Think about it!)
"Readers who have persevered so far may be wondering why this
tour bore its "Bell Viewer" headboard. Shortly after crossing the
Barrow Bridge (longest in Ireland at 2131ft), running now along
the north bank of the estuary of the River Suir, (more
superb scenery) we were to find out.
The first hint was a container ship steaming down river,
laden with (you've guessed?) Bell Line containers. Then,
within a mile or so, came the huge new Bell freightliner
terminal, built appropriately at a place called Belview!
This massive investment seems to bode well for rail freight
in Ireland, replacing an earlier terminal (still extant)
another mile or so upriver, which we passed shortly before
stopping at Waterford station, on the opposite bank of the Suir
to the town with its attractive waterfront.
"Another pause here while 051, our host for just 17 miles, was
removed and scuttled off to find some more beet wagons. Now it
was to be no. 049's turn!
"The scheduled 25 minute run from Wellington bridge had taken
40. We were 50 minutes late leaving, and lost another 5 over the
14 miles to Carrick on Suir (37 minutes!). Waterford's Dublin
service is via the Kilkenny line to the north. The passenger
service serving Carrick consists of just two trains a day in each
direction, though I suspect a fair bit of freight - a train of Bell
containers was waiting to cross us in the loop on arrival. I
imagine that the track condition could be a problem.
"The ITG's collection was on view for us - two Deutz 4-wheeled
diesels of CIE G-class, two of the Metro-Vick C-class sisters of
our tour locomotives, and the last survivor of the 12-strong B-
class. The Cs were originally built with engines of just 550bhp
(you would need 6 of them to make a Deltic!), but, like the As,
were re-engined, with GMs of 1100bhp. The Sulzer engined Bs,
built by Birmingham RC&W, thus became the only non-GM
engined main line diesels, a cause of their demise. The last in
service was withdrawn in early 1978; the class then "served" in
the Inchicore barrier until scrapping commenced in the late
1980s. They were most odd looking locos. Their three small, high
windows facing forward gave them a resemblance to (oddly) the
Metro-Vick Co-Bos of BR."
We returned to Dublin via Limerick and the Nenagh line,
reversing at Ballybrophy to gain the main line back to Dublin and
Dun Laoghaire - and back onto the ferry for the long trip home,
after an excellent day's railtouring.