Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Enterprise Express Service To Belfast (inside the train)

Enterprise is the name of the cross-border inter-city train service between Dublin Connolly in the Republic of Ireland and Belfast Central in Northern Ireland and is jointly operated by Iarnród Éireann (IE) and NI Railways (NIR).

Each Push-pull trainset consists of seven coaches and a 201 Class locomotive. Originally, the 28 coaches were delivered as four sets of seven, but entered service as three sets of eight, while a total of four locomotives, two from each operator, were allocated to Enterprise. The coaches were manufactured by De Dietrich Ferroviaire, while the locomotives are from GM-EMD; ownership of the rolling stock is jointly shared between both operators, however coach maintenance is provided by NIR and the locomotives are maintained by IE. The coaching stock is based on the Class 373 EMU stock used by Eurostar, with the interiors identical. However, unlike the EMU stock, which is articulated and permanently coupled, the stock used by Enterprise is ordinary coaching stock.

The service has suffered from a lack of reliability of the locomotives, which provides head end power to the train; unlike IÉ's Dublin-Cork services, which operate with the locomotive operating with a generator control car that provides power for lighting and heating the train, the Enterprise fleet is equipped with an ordinary control car, which has no power generating capability. This means that the locomotive has to provide all the power for the train, both motive and generating. Extended operation in this mode causes damage, so four further locomotives were allocated to Enterprise from the central IÉ fleet. However, this still required locomotives to be used in HEP mode. So, in May 2009, the Minister for Regional Development in Northern Ireland requested an estimate for the provision of generator functions for the existing rolling stock so that head-end power mode would no longer be needed. The withdrawal of IÉ's Mark 3 coaching fleet saw a large number of generator vans become available. One of these was tested with the Enterprise set stranded at Inchicore following the Broadmeadow Viaduct collapse. This vehicle, along with four others, was then earmarked for conversion to operate with the De Dietrich stock coaches.

In the event that an Enterprise set is unavailable, either NIR's "Gatwick" stock rake of coaches or an IÉ set can be used on the service. Additionally, both NIR and IÉ have equipped six each of their newest DMUs (C3K and 22000) to each other's specifications so they may also be used on this route in the event of a breakdown.

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