The old 80 Class trains helped keep railway in NI alive

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As time marches on, it becomes increasingly difficult to preserve beautiful or interesting things from the past.

Fine buildings fall into disrepair and then, even if they are listed, pressure grows on them to be de-listed so something else can be built there. It will usually be a lesser new building using cheaper materials.

There is constant pressure to concrete our countryside.

But it becomes hard, amid cost and space pressures, even to preserve quirky, notable, important parts of our past that are not exceptional or beautiful.

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An obvious example of that is the 80 Class train, which is long out of service as a passenger train but which ceased to be used at all last year (it had been latterly a leaf buster).

Anyone who set foot on a train in Northern Ireland the 1970s and 80s will remember them, with their bench seats. They were noisy and not exactly attractive, but sturdy old workhorses that won the affection of their users.

As our story on page 18 explains, the trains were introduced during the Troubles, and at a time when it seemed the entire remaining rail network would close.

Thank goodness it didn’t. Trains are now quieter and smoother and are heavily used across the network and an important alternative to the car. Places that lost their rail link now want to reinstate it.

Let us hope the train enthusiasts succeed in preserving an example of the 80 Class, which helped keep rail alive.

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