Northern Ireland news

Campaign launched to save distinctive Northern Ireland 'Thumpers' train

A new fundraising campaign has been launched in Co Down to help safeguard the future of distinctive Northern Irish train, the 80 Class, also known as `Thumpers'. Photo by Sam Somerville
Marie Louise McConville

A new fundraising campaign launched in Co Down is aiming to save a distinctive Northern Irish train from the scrapyard.

Introduced to Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, when it was feared the Troubles would close the railways and prevent commuters from getting to work, the 80 Class became much loved for their reliability and strength.

It was affectionately known as `Thumpers' because of the thumping noise their engines produced.

In the nineties, they were also used for the Peace Train movement, operating between Belfast and Dublin, with one of the surviving units No 69, operating the last Peace Train to Dublin and back.

The last of the 80 Class - used by Translink as leaf-busting trains during last Autumn - have now been withdrawn from service and train enthusiasts are hoping to save the last one from the breaker's yard.

Robert Gardiner, chairman of Downpatrick & County Down Railway, said:"The 80 Class may not be a steam train, but they are still fondly loved by railway workers and the public alike," he said.

"They're unique to Northern Ireland, there's nothing else like them in the world and they defined Northern Irish rail travel for four decades," he said.

"We want to turn back the clock for these trains to allow our children and grandchildren to fall in love with their unique spirit"

Mr Gardiner said the 80 Class would be in operation at Down Railway.

"With an 80 Class in our fleet we can expand our timetable to include days and times that we normally couldn't operate, and provide extra capacity at peak events," he said.

Mr Gardiner said every donation would help however revealed those making larger donations would receive rewards.

"And we've a challenge for you. For every pound you donate, one of our volunteers will match it pound for pound up to £4000. We know you can do it, but we don't have long to make this happen"

***Donations can be made online at www.downrail.co.uk/80class or you can send a cheque to: Downpatrick & County Down Railway (80 Class Appeal), Market Street, Downpatrick, BT30 6LZ

A new fundraising campaign has been launched in Co Down to help safeguard the future of distinctive Northern Irish train, the 80 Class, also known as `Thumpers'. Photo by Sam Somerville

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