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Drumm roll please... our latest Irish railway badge buzzes into town.

Updated: Jul 10

Drumm Battery train charging equipment

Battery power and hybrids are all the rage in the transport sector these days. You can’t go far without seeing charging infrastructure for cars and vans, while on the rail network a new fleet of Battery Electric Multiple Unit trains (or to use their more fun-sounding acronym, BEMUs) is under construction for Iarnród Éireann which will see charging infrastructure installed at locations like Drogheda. But what if we were to say these are but the second generation of battery-powered trains in Ireland? It’s a story that goes all the back to the days of the Great Southern Railways when a series of battery-powered trains were built in Dublin's Inchicore Works. The battery used in these trains was developed by Dr James Drumm of UCD, and originally from Dundrum Co. Down. With this July marking the 75th anniversary of the end of battery operation on Irish railways, we thought one of the GSR’s Drumm Battery trains would make an excellent subject for our next enamel badge.

David Walsh, Chairman of the Táilte Tours Committee, commented:

"Of all the forms of transport that we have seen in Ireland, the Drumm Car sets are truly the most unique, primarily because they have never been seen or heard of elsewhere. From a design point of view they looked amazing while passengers loved the level of comfort they provided, not to mention being grateful for the service they provided in the dark days of The Emergency.

Almost all of the research and development was done in Dublin, so we can safely say that they were an Irish contribution to the railway story. While it’s a pity that the technology wasn’t not adopted elsewhere at the time, I’m sure that Dr Drumm is looking down with a little glee that his work will soon see service once more, both on the Irish network and further beyond".

These Drumm battery train badges are now available from our online store here, and we imagine will be very popular not only with railway enthusiasts but fans of Irish history in general, being an iconic if oft unsung part of Irish technological developments.

A contemporary British Pathé news reel covering the introduction of the Drumm battery trains in 1931.

The Drumm Battery Train—An Icon of Irish Technology & Transport Heritage

The unit depicted on our new badge is Drumm Battery Train A, resplendent in original Great Southern Railways (GSR) livery, built in Dublin’s Inchicore Works in 1931 and entering service the following year. It primarily operated suburban services to Bray, though is known to have travelled parts of the system as well. The units had an operating range of 40 miles, and charging facilities were installed at Amiens Street (now Connolly) and Bray. 3 more units were built, set B following in 1932 while C & D emerged in 1939. The GSR became part of CIÉ in 1945, and the units would continue to be used until cost-saving measures saw them demoted to regular hauled carriage stock in 1949, with the last battery-powered run taking place on 12th July 1949. They continued in use as steam-hauled carriages until 1955, and sadly none survived into preservation. Their legend lives on, however, and we hope that our new badge will play a part in carrying on their legacy. A train that was very much ahead of its time (on a worldwide basis), we look forward to seeing the first of a whole new generation of battery-powered trains arrive on Irish rails later this year.

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