Diesel services on the Tralee & Blennerville (2009)

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Since 2006, the historic Tralee & Dingle Railway locomotive no. 5T, described elsewhere in these pages, has been out of service due to a boiler problem. For three years the Tralee & Blennerville Railway was closed, with the locomotive stripped down, and the tanks, cab roof and the boiler stored in the open, close to the Atlantic coast and subject to all weathers. The Spanish carriages beside the shed were exposed to vandalism and deterioration. Photos of the locomotive and the railway in that state appeared on Holger Lorenz's Tralee Blog, click HERE for a link to his pages.

Early in 2009, on this page an appeal was published to the Tralee Urban District Council, the owners of the railway, to take steps to safeguard this heritage locomotive. In May, 2009, a representative of the Tralee UDC informed me that the agreement with the previous (private) operator of the railway was terminated. The parts of the locomotive were put under cover and during the summer a diesel locomotive was put into service hauling a single carriage between Tralee (Aquadome terminus) and Blennerville. All this was confirmed by repeated reports by Holger Lorenz on his Tralee Blog. Regrettably my own visit to Tralee, planned in August 2009, had to be cancelled due to circumstances beyond my control. Holger was so kind to lend me the use of some of his recent photographs.

Although restoring 5T to working order may be far away, at least it will not rot to pieces as it would have, had the boiler, tanks and cab been left out in the open. Another good development is services being restored, even if diesel-hauled. This way the railway will at least have a chance to keep going.

Ted Polet, August 2009

Note the update, May 2010, below.

The Tralee & Blennerville Railway and locomotive no. 5T in better times.

Remains of locomotive 5T at Blennerville, February 2009 (photos courtesy Holger Lorenz).

Boiler, cab and tanks removed from Blennerville site, May 2009 (photos courtesy Holger Lorenz).

Left: the Blennerville shed with diesel loco. Centre: 5T with the boiler temporarily fitted on the frames, right: a single coach in the platform before services commenced, August 2009 (photos courtesy Holger Lorenz).

Left: the diesel locomotive which appears to have been borrowed from the West Clare Railway. Centre: interior of the coach. Right: the first diesel train leaving the Tralee (Aquadome) terminus, August 2009 (photos courtesy Holger Lorenz).

Click on image for a short film of my model of engine no. 3T, a smaller sister of 5T, the prototype of which was scrapped in 1959. Let us hope we will see 5T run again in the future.

An update - May 2010

Early in May, 2010, I re-visited the Tralee & Blennerville Railway, hoping to see a sign of activity after the promising start of diesel services in 2009. Perhaps it was too early in the season, or it was due to it being a Friday, but there was no sign of anything moving. The track was rusted over with no sign of recent movement, the two red carriages were quietly standing in the siding, much as last years' photos by Holger Lorenz show. The carriages look in need of serious maintenance, with patches of rust and faded paintwork. One still has the vandalised window boarded up. Another unhappy sign is the roof of the loco shed, which presumably still houses the remains of no. 5T. The roof is damaged with a corrugated plastic sheet bent up, and a floodlight housing dangling from its cable beside it. I will try and inquire from the Tralee Council what their plans are for the railway, if any, in the present economic climate.

Ted Polet, May 2010

Left: the carriages in the sidings beside the loco shed, May 2010. Centre: the rusting approach tracks. Right: rusting spare bogies of Spanish origin.

Left: vandalised window boarded up. Centre: the T&DLR crest with faded paintwork and rust showing through the carriage side above. Right: first glimpse of a rotting Spanish carriage body behind the shed.

Left: damaged loco shed roof. Centre: the other side of the carriage sidings. The carriage on the right was used on the diesel service in 2009. Right: what is left of the other two carriage bodies imported from Spain in the 1980s. They seem to have been on fire at some time in the past and must be considered a total loss.

In April 2015 I returned to Ireland and again investigated the remains of the Tralee & Dingle Railway, and the state of the Tralee & Blennerville steam railway. There is some change now - there is a support group, the Tralee and Blennerville Steam Railway Group which has taken the initiative. Here is a photo album:

Photo album of the Tralee & Dingle Railway and the Tralee & Blennerville Railway