17/08/2010

Irish Rail Aware Viaduct 'Fail Imminent'

An independent report into the collapse of a bridge on the main Belfast to Dublin railway line has claimed Irish Rail was aware the structure might fail, but did nothing.

In August last year, the Malahide viaduct collapsed into the sea moments after a crowded passenger train passed over it, narrowly avoiding a major tragedy.

This morning's report from the Railway Accident Investigation Unit says safety inspections at Irish Rail were not adequate and that engineers were not appropriately trained.

The report also found that despite erosion at the base of a pier had been being spotted in 1997, the company had failed to take any action.

Dublin North TD Michael Kennedy has today welcomed the publication of the report but said it highlighted deficiencies in Irish Rail's maintenance regime, which must be addressed to ensure commuters are safe and have confidence in the rail network.

"This report is a very important step in rebuilding confidence among the travelling public in Iarnród Éireann's network. The collapse of the Malahide Viaduct into Broadmeadow Estuary on August 21st 2009 was extremely serious and could have killed or seriously injured many people.
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"Thankfully there were no fatalities or injuries to any members of the public or Irish Rail staff and the train driver is to be commended for the quick action taken on the day," said Deputy Kennedy, who is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport.

He added: "I welcome today's report which highlights a very serious lack of maintenance and inspection within Iarnród Éireann.

"This is something that was widely suspected at the time of the collapse but the report details that this was the case for a period in recent years. It is now clear that the systems in place at Iarnród Éireann failed to safeguard the viaduct structure from erosion, something that could have had the most horrifying of results.

"I want to acknowledge the warning that was given by Malahide Sea Scouts on days before the collapse of the viaduct."

Iarnród Éireann said it has acted on a series of recommendations in the report, such as future inspection standards and their implementation, training of key personnel, risk assessment of railway structures and the provision of physical and flood protection for structures at high risk.

See: Labour Calls For Inquiry Into Bridge Collapse

(DW/BMcC)

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