Class 70 No 75 at Downshire.

First up, the last 70 class thumper in service with no 75 'River Maine' at the head. The power cars of these were built by the Ulster Transport Authority at Duncrue Street, Belfast in 1966, while the trailers were rebuilt from steam-hauled stock. This shot is in the halt at Downshire looking towards Belfast, one week before the set was withdrawn in August 1986.

The stock was (I think) mostly ex-NCC and the 8 70 class units were built for the Belfast York Road > Londonderry Waterside service on the former NCC main line. They were built in 1966 though, so the Southern Railway units are a much older type. The UTA/NIR also used pairs of 70 class power cars back to back to haul freight trains on the Derry line.

Bringing the story up to date, no 69 carrying the early Translink livery arrives at Downshire on a Larne > Great Victoria Street working in May 2008



A few minutes later 450 class no 452 'Olderfleet Castle' arrived at Whiteabbey at the rear of the 15:45 Larne Town > Great Victoria Street, pictured here at Belfast Central. Probably my last ever ride on a DEMU or any English Electric traction in main line service. Northern Ireland will be a quieter place when the last of these old fashioned and highly eccentric yet British built thumpers have gone; vanquished by the odious Spanish built plastic Smartie tubes that have replaced them. It will also have lost a very small part of its soul 


The 10:10 Fridays only Belfast Central > Portrush is pictured at the Atlantic Coast resort after arrival, also on 8th March 1991, with no 99 in Inter City Sector livery having led from Belfast. Look at the state of that track!!

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Power car number 96 still in the original (and IMHO best) maroon and blue livery brings up the rear of a Belfast York Road > Larne train leaving Downshire sometime in the summer of 1985.


The 14:40 had been formed of this 5-car set led by power car no 86 (still in the attractive 1980s red and grey livery) between Derry and Coleraine that day. Seen here at Londonderry Waterside prior to departure.


This shot is taken near Kilroot power station, Carrickfergus, and shows the reincarnation of the 70 class as the hybrid 450 class using the EE power unit and traction motors in a new class 455 derived bodyshell. No 456 'Gosford Castle' is seen at the rear of a train lumbering towards Larne. The last of these sets (no 455) last saw passenger service as recently as February 2012, and I was fortunate enough to be on the farewell tour.


On 8th March 1991 Suburban Sector liveried driving trailer no 735 stands at the head of the 14:40 [London]Derry > Belfast Central at a rainy and miserable Lisburn station.


A rare shot here of EE 4SRKT traction outside the UK. It's June 1991 and a gorgeous evening to ride the 20:10 Dundalk > Bangor, seen here at the Dalk ready to leave for a splendid run through the Mournes to Newry and beyond. At that time this was the only booked DEMU working into the Republic, although a couple of years later NIR leased 3 3-car 80 class units to Irish Rail for use on the Cobh branch and the Bray > Greystones shuttle.


And in the eleventh hour, a filthy 94 in the current Translink livery brings up the rear of the 16:12 Belfast Central > Larne Town working on 5th April this year; seen here at Whiteabbey where I had just bailed from the train. Almost certainly my last ever sight of an 80 class in service 


Things swiftly took a turn for the worse when the Northern Ireland Railways diesel-electric multiple units finally bowed out after deafening NI folk since 1966. A very sad end to a long and solid career through the Troubles and beyond. My personal favourite trains of all time and a very sad occasion. 455 is seen at Dundalk's magnificently restored Great Northern Railway station on the farewell tour on 18th February. R.I.P.



The William Ellis Collection.


After we set up our facebook group page one of the people who joined was William Ellis.

He has a number of images of the Irish Units which he has agreed to let us use. Also the descriptions he has done for every photo on the facebook site is excellent and descriptive so we have also copied his text.