THE Republic of Ireland’s hottest June and July in more than 40 years brought its own share of problems for Iarnród Éireann-Irish Rail, not least the suspension of services between Bray and Greystones on July 13 after a huge gorse fire on Bray Head.
Yet for the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s (RPSI) Dublin operation the hot spell could not have come at a worse time.
On June 24, GNR(I) Compound 4-4-0 No. 85 Merlin arrived at the RPSI’s Connolly shed from Whitehead in anticipation of hauling the sell-out ‘Sea Breeze’ from Dublin to Wexford on July 8, and the add-on ‘The Strand’ tour from Wexford down to Rosslare that same day. However, as temperatures continued to soar, the skies remained devoid of rain, and the RPSI announced on June 28 the tour would run diesel-hauled as a precaution against fire risk.
“We felt it was the right decision under the circumstances,” explained the RPSI’s Dublin locomotive officer Gerry Mooney.
“The fire risk was obviously a major consideration and we have our reputation to think of, but we also had to think about water conservation and take a responsible line.”
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