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Photo report of the 30th December 2007
Mince Pie and Mulled Wine steam train
Belfast-Dublin return

The RPSI keeps a steam locomotive and train based in Dublin and another based in Belfast.  Occasionally we need to swap the locomotives to allow essential maintenance work to take place at our depot at Whitehead.  On these occasions we offset the costs of swapping by giving the public the opportunity to travel in the train.  This year we tried a theme not used for many years, with each passenger receiving a complimentary glass of mulled wine and a mince pie.  The train consisted of 186 passengers, five Mark 2 carriages and No.186 from Belfast-Lisburn-Portadown-Dundalk-Dublin and No.4 from Dublin-Drogheda-Portadown-Lisburn-Belfast.
Photos by CP Friel, JJ Friel and PJ Lockett unless otherwise credited.

RPSI Photonews Image51 passengers and crew chose to join the train at Whitehead Excursion Station, home of the RPSI.  Here the train is shunted from the carriage sidings at Whitehead.

RPSI Photonews ImageWith a lovely light of a winters morning, the train makes its was along the shore of Belfast Lough towards the chimney of Kilroot power station.

RPSI Photonews ImageThe train then made its way to its first pickup point, Belfast Central Station and it is seen here being overtaken by the 0953 from Larne Harbour.

RPSI Photonews ImageNIR Steam Driver Noel Playfair and RPSI Locomotive Representative Mark Walsh look happy to be on the footplate of No.186 at Belfast Central for the 1105 departure to Dublin.

Whitehead Photonews ImageNever men to miss a posing opportunity, the RPSI Youth Team (or at least some of them) pose by 186.  If you'd like to join the Youth Team, or indeed volunteer with the RPSI at any age, then have a look at our vounteering webpage.  The Youth Team are currently advancing through the Ivan project.  l-r Ben, Phil, Mark, James and Dave.

RPSI Photonews ImageGreen signal ahead and the clock is approaching 1100....

Whitehead Photonews Image....so, its time for NIR Fireman Gary Moore to build up his fire and ensure he has a full boiler for the journey ahead.

RPSI Photonews ImageWith all our Belfast passengers on board we enjoy a non-stop run to Lisburn, seen here approaching Botanic station.

RPSI Photonews ImageAt Lisburn we top up with water (and more passengers), with the next chance to take water not being until Dundalk.

RPSI Photonews ImageDes Coakham, Derek Young and Andy Crockart, all authors in their own right, are settled in to enjoy the journey.

RPSI Photonews ImageOur final pickup point in Northern Ireland was at Portadown and No.186 is seen here confidently taking her train away from Portadown station yard.

Whitehead Works ImageAlexandra Woods captured this lovely shot of the train crossing Madden Bridge near Gilford.

RPSI Photonews ImageOn board, passengers were being treated to complimentary mince pies and mulled wine.  Two teams were needed to distribute the goodies.  Here Philip Lockett, John Lockett, Michael McCann and James Friel are doing the honours and the passengers look pleased with the results!

RPSI Photonews ImageA couple of substantial viaducts are crossed on the railway line between Belfast and Dublin.  This is the very impressive Craigmore Viaduct just before the current NIR Newry Station.

RPSI Photonews ImageAnother shot of the train on Craigmore Viaduct with the weather being particularly kind to us for this time of the year.

RPSI Photonews ImageThere is a steep climb south of Newry, but the crew's enthusiam for the job was matched by the fine fettle of the locomotive. Here No.186 is doing well and is approaching the summit of Newry Bank (and a welcome rest for the fireman).

RPSI Photonews ImageAfter all that hard work, its time for the loco to take water again and we are stopped here at Dundalk.  The Harp brewery looms large in the background as the fireman takes the opportunity to shovel coal forward in the tender.  This makes it easier for him to get at it when the train is moving.

RPSI Photonews ImageThe train was a who's who of the RPSI.  One of the three website administrators and 'youth' James Friel ticks off the photographer with RPSI Train Manager Henry Ritchie.

Whitehead Works ImageUp on 186's tender, Mark checks how much water is in the tank.

Whitehead Works ImageOnboard the train Mervyn Fleming is looking pleased to have found the catering facilities in the end of coach 460.

Whitehead Works ImageThe RPSI team from Dublin made an enormous effort to get down to Belfast for the 1105 departure to Dublin.  Here RPSI Business Development Office Fergus McDonnell has been collecting empty mulled wine glasses.

Whitehead Works ImageRPSI Locomotive Officer Peter Scott looks happy with proceedings as he inspects the locomotive at Dundalk.

Whitehead Works ImageThe people who made the train so comfortable - Kathy Playfair and Peter Marsden had toiled hard to produce bacon butties, burgers, sandwiches, not to mention mince pies and mulled wine.  Did I mention they also ran the bar?  Luckily they had the essential help of Rita Henderson to provide teas, coffees and confectionery.  The passengers were very satisfied with their work. Peter's empty frying pan is a testament to the popularity of his hot food!

Whitehead Works ImageGetting the final drop of water into the tank (well some water went in)!

RPSI Photonews ImageTime for the off again and No.186 lifts her train southwards from Dundalk.

RPSI Photonews ImageThe old Dundalk Works of the GNR(I) as seen from the train.  A traverser once traversed up and down this gap, allowing locomotives to be shunted into the workshops on the left. The paintshop was in the building on the right.  All GNR(I) locomotives had to fit into this gap so they could be put into the workshops.

RPSI Photonews ImageHere's an interesting sign to be photographed from a steam train!

Whitehead Works ImageWe were held outside Drogheda to allow the northbound Enterprise through. Unfortunately when we finally got into our station we then missed our path to the local (stopping) train seen on the right of the picture. 

Whitehead Works ImageHowever, in a remarkable example of driving skill, the crew took the train at a steady speed behind the stopping railcar, meaning that we were not badly late into Connolly.  The line to North Wall is seen off to the left.

Whitehead Works ImageNo.186 crosses No.171, but sadly not our own blue express engine! This bo-bo diesel locomotive later whisked the RPSI coaches away to allow No.186 to get into the shed to be stabled. 

Whitehead Works ImageAs we pull into Connolly station the RPSI Dublin based loco reps David Carse and Gerry Mooney have No.4 oiled up and in steam.

Whitehead Works ImageNo.186 waits patiently for the passengers to go for a walk in the city and for No.171 to take her coaches away.

Whitehead Works ImageLess than 90 minutes later, No.186 was tucked away in a corner of the shed No.4 was shunted to the head of the train for the journey north.

Whitehead Works ImageMost of the journey home was made in darkness.  This atmospheric shot was taken at Lisburn on the journey north.  No.4 had just completed taking water here and you can just make out the ghostly images of RPSI loco rep David Orr and NIR driver Noel Playfair.

Whitehead Works ImageHaving checked the locos lubrication, RPSI loco rep Philip Lockett sorts out some of the engine's tools.  This shot was taken by Wilson Adams and you can see more of his photos on his website http://irishrailwayimages.fotopic.net
View our Helping Us Page to see how you can volunteer in Dublin or Whitehead and get involved.

Or, join us as a passenger.

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