Why does Ireland have a different gauge?

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by matt9f, 16 Apr 2018 at 17:18.

  1. matt9f

    matt9f Member

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    Is there a reason the Irish system adopted a broader gauge? Ive heard it was simply an average of alternatives already in use.
     
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  3. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Pretty much.

    The first railway in Ireland (and 3rd in the world), was the Dublin and Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) this was built to 4ft 8.5in standard guage, the next line built was the Ulster Railway from Belfast to Lisburn which was constructed to the 6ft 2in gauge recommended by a Railway commisson in 1836. The next was the Dublin and Drogheda which ignored the commission's advice e and was built to 5ft 2in guage.

    In order that Belfast and Dublin could be linked without a change of gauge, the British Parliament passed an Act which decided upon a compromise gauge of 5ft 3in to be adopted throughout Ireland and the Ulster Railway was duly re-laid. The Board of Trade also deemed that the Ulster Railway should be paid compensation for costs incurred in altering it's gauge.
     
  4. The_Engineer

    The_Engineer Member

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    Yes, that reply is spot-on. The Board of Trade recommended 5 ft 3 ins in 1843, and this was enforced by the Regulating the Gauge of Railways Act 1846.

    Other countries to use and keep the gauge for some of their railways after this date included Brazil (15% of route miles) and Australia (10% of route miles).
     
  5. jopsuk

    jopsuk Veteran Member

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    I guess there would have been more issues with regauging it all to "standard", and there was no technical need to have the same as the rest of the UK (and before anyone start, remember I'm talking about the 1840s...). Might have been useful later on when train ferries became a significant thing though!
     
  6. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Wonder if it would've saved a lot of bother if the UK guage had been standardised after only 3 lines were built? ;)
     
  7. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I like the idea of the Irish Mail going straight over to Rosslare and right up into Dublin entirely on 4ft 8.5in! :lol:
     
  8. martinsh

    martinsh Established Member

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    Allegedly due to using Irish construction engineers ...
     
  9. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    Not sure about Brazil but there was very much an Irish influence in early railway construction in Australia. However New South Wales ended up very much standard gauge territory after the Irish chief engineer resigned following a pay cut and was replaced by a Scotsman who pushed for standard gauge to be adopted. Feel free to read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_gauge_in_Australia
     
  10. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Although Australia may have just 10% of mileage at this gauge, the different gauges there are concentrated by state, and Victoria (Melbourne) and South Australia (Adelaide) are 5'3" states. New South Wales, the largest network, is standard, while Queensland and West Australia are 3'6". As a result, for a long time the only through service possible between states was on the 5'3" between Melbourne and Adelaide.

    The National government has, very slowly, developed a standard gauge network, which does now link all the state capitals, but really just by a single penetrating line into each, the rest of each state's network being left as it is. Rail plays a lesser part in Australia's transport than most countries, the only serious passenger operations remaining are commuter operations in the major cities, all still at the relevant state's gauge.

    As well as the railways in Melbourne, the tramway system there, one of the largest still remaining in the world, is at 5'3" gauge.
     
  11. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    The first train ferry was as early as 1850, linking Granton and Burntisland. So if the gauge commission in Ireland had been only a few years later it might have been able to take account of this and perhaps even reach a different conclusion.
     
  12. Calthrop

    Calthrop Member

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    Being, likely, guilty of "schadenfreude" here: I've always taken some pleasure in the sheer craziness of Australia's situation of "gauge muddle" -- stemming above all, from the vacillation-between-gauges in the earliest days, as told of above; with the Irish guy in NSW, the principal culprit. Maybe humorous to the onlooker on the other side of the globe: but must have been maddening for very many who were immediately affected; and must have wrought no good, and a fair amount of harm, to Australia's railways throughout their history.

    Something to me, especially charmingly batty -- South Australia used -- as well as 5'3" on its main and more important lines -- 3'6" for lines in marginal areas. After the 1917 inauguration of the nationally-fostered, non-State Commonwealth Railways' 4' 8-and-a-half" Trans-Australian line between South Australia and Western Australia: South Australia could thus boast all three Australian gauges. It is gathered that as at the present time, 3'6" is almost extinct in South Australia (converted to 5'3", or abandoned) but just retains a toe-hold. Its last commercial use in the state is on the physically isolated, now freight-only, Port Lincoln system --

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyre_Peninsula_Railway

    Another 3'6" remnant survives under preservation -- the Quorn / Pichi Richi line.

    The national, as opposed to State, 4' 8-and-a-half" system began if I have things rightly, with the 1917 opening of the Trans-Australian route -- linking on that gauge, the systems of South Australia and Western Australia. One is inclined to speculate that if -- as might have happened, and was at one time, the outcome which was planned -- a connected 5'3" gauge system had developed throughout South Australia and Victoria, and NSW as well: the National, super-States system would likely have used the already established 5'3" gauge; and Australia would not have known the "four-eight-and-a-half".
     
  13. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Established Member

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    Change of gauge is not as awkward as it was now that Spain has developed in-line gauge-changing equipment to link their national broad gauge system to their growing standard gauge high-speed network.
    Through running is now commonplace on cross-Spanish service which transit from broad-gauge to standard and back again, at places like Sevilla and Valladolid.
    Trains run through the changers at 30kph and just carry on, at up to 250km/h on the high-speed network.
    The same technology is planned for the changes from standard to Russian gauge in eastern Europe.
    CAF and Talgo both have bi-gauge rolling stock designs to run through the gauge changers.
    Some lines are also being converted to dual-gauge to handle trains of both gauges without the need for gauge-changers (eg Valencia-Castellon).
     
  14. kilonewton

    kilonewton Member

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    The Melbourne Tram network is 1435mm gauge, not 1600mm. There were a couple of tram lines built by Victorian Railways at 1600mm, but both were closed in the 50s.

    Note: Metric measures used due to Australia being part of the modern, logical world. Imperial measures should have gone the same way as the empire!
     

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