Contrary to media reports this morning, the tunnel under the Phoenix Park was used by passengers prior to today’s launch of the new scheduled service .
The Irish Times online edition mentioned a hiatus of 100 years, others implied it was never used for passengers except by VIPs on their recent trip prior to the tunnel’s official opening this morning. I was under the impression that along with its use by freight trains the tunnel was also utilised to reposition passenger rolling stock between Heuston and Connolly stations. Special Services were run through it on All Ireland days back in the 1990s. The difference today is the establishing of a scheduled service as opposed to an occasional chartered special service.
Surprise! Myself and my brother along with hundreds more travelled through the tunnel on our way to and from Belfast on a chartered CIE train in 1964.
It was the occasion of the Saint James’ CBS primary school annual educational trip. Our classes were marched two abreast from the school in Basin Lane to Kingsbridge (Heuston) Station where we boarded the train. The train left the station and turned right and slowly entered the tunnel. The carriage lights did not turn on until we were well into the tunnel so everyone held onto their sweets. It was a “modern” radio train and some carriages had tables fitted. One of the Christian Brothers informed us over the speakers that we were passing beside Croke Park on our way into Amien Street (Connolly) Station. The train stopped out from the actual station and the engine decoupled and proceeded on a parallel track to the opposite end of the train and brought us all to Belfast and back.
Check your records again Iarnród Éireann. The boys from Jambo (pronounced Jame Bo) did it just over 50 years ago!