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A Brief History of CIÉ

Córas Iompair Éireann (Irish Transport Company) was formed on the 1st January 1945 by the 1944 Transport Act with the amalgamation of the Great Southern Railways (the plural is correct) and the Dublin United Transport Company. Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) continued as a private company until 1950 whereupon it was nationalised under the 1950 Transport Act. Eight years later, the 1958 Great Northern Railway Act divided the GNR(I) in two. The lines south of the border being acquired by CIÉ whereas the lines north of the border went to the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA). The corporate logo that was adopted to identify the company was a modified version of the former DUTC symbol, it is often, unkindly, referred to as the 'Flying Snail'.


In 1963, CIÉ adopted a new corporate identity and liveries. The CIÉ Roundal was a familiar sight for many years. But, as with the previous logo, the roundal picked up the unfortunate nickname of the 'broken wheel'. CIÉ continued in this form, being responsible for all railway, bus, coach and canal services until early 1987.


On the 2nd February 1987, CIÉ was split up into three subsidiary companies. Bus Átha Claith is responsible for the Dublin area bus services while Bus Éireann looks after the rest. Irish Rail, with its unusual non Gaelic title, became responsible for all the rail services within the Republic. A new logo was chosen with the initials IR resembling railway tracks.


A further change took place in a few years later when Irish Rail changed its name to the Gaelic form Iarnród Éireann. The new IÉ logo first appeared on the new 201 Class and is still to be applied to some of the fleet. CIÉ remains the holding company.



One relevant fact to consider is that Ireland was under English rule until Independence in 1922. This means, of course, that Irish railways were subject to the same rules and regulations as their English counterparts. Indeed, a few lines were owned or part owned by English companies. One still is, the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbour Company (FRRHCo). It is part owned by CIÉ and what is left of British Rail. It will then come as no great surprise to learn that most operating practises and equipment are the same or similar to British practise, apart from the gauge.

Irish Standard gauge is 5ft 3in, a gauge reached by compromise and enforced by the Board of Trade. It is the standard gauge throughout the island of Ireland. Irish Narrow gauge is 3ft, with the obvious exception of a few industrial railways.

Iarnród Éireann operate about 1,100 miles of mostly single track, through Éire. The double track sections are Dublin to Cork and Cobh, Bray to Howth and Belfast. Passing loops, normally at stations, are strategically placed on the single track services. The main works is located at Inchicore, Dublin. Post steam era locomotives and railcars (the Irish term for a DMU) were originally brought from England. Ninety four locomotives from Metropolitan Vickers, twelve from BRCW and sixty railcars from AEC/Park Royal started the modernisation plan. However, poor performance from the Metrovicks caused CIÉ to look elsewhere for subsequent orders. Under the advice of O. V. S. Bullied, CIÉ's former CMEE, CIÉ started to purchase locomotives from the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in the USA. Since then, all locomotive stock has been bought from GM, with the Metrovicks being re-engined with GM units. Although CIÉ did build its own coaching stock, the majority has come from BREL. A number of Mk.IId types were supplied in 1972 with a larger order of Mk.III types being delivered in 1984. Cravens supplied a number of carriages in the early 1960's. One point to remember is that Irish locomotives (201 Class excepted) do not supply heating or lighting. Therefore a separate steam heating or electric heating generator van is towed around with each rake.

In 1983, the Dublin suburban area, Bray to Howth, was electrified. The Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) uses two car EMU's in larger formations running under 1,500V dc overhead wires. The DART's success has led to further orders of EMU's and an extension to the system to Greystones in the south and to Malahide in the north.