Trains Long Departed: Ireland's Lost Railways (Tom Ferris)

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The first Irish railway was established as early as 1834 and by 1914 the network covered virtually the entire island. However, the development of the internal combustion engine, combined with the inherent unprofitability of many of the smaller and more remote lines, resulted in a drastic cull of the system in the course of the twentieth century. It is these lost railways of Ireland that are the subject of Tom Ferris's new book. Some broad gauge lines were simply uneconomic; and of the various narrow gauge lines, many of which had been sponsored by the British government in the late nineteenth century to stimulate economic development in remote places, the great majority was unprofitable. Large parts of the network which had scarcely been viable before the advent of the internal combustion engine would fall victim to those wielding axes on both sides of the border in the twentieth century. The most scandalous result of purging of the system would leave the entire north-west quarter of the island without a single kilometer of useable track in the early twenty-first century, and many other parts with only a sparse service. The Trains Long Departed tells the story of these lost railways, the repository of optimism, disappointment and nostalgia.