26/08/2009

'Check All Bridges' Call Follow Collapse

Ireland's largest body representing builders has called for all rail bridges to be checked for safety.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) wants the Dubln government to assess the safety of all rail bridges in the Irish Republic, following a near fatal collapse in Malahide last Friday, (pictured).

The CIF's Don O'Sullivan said the cost of repairing the suspended railway could range between €2m and €5m.

Initial investigations by transport operator Iarnród Éireann have suggested the Malahide incident was likely to be caused by the viaduct rather than the track.

"This is the second sudden bridge collapse in the last five years," said Mr O'Sullivan.

"Bearing in mind that most of the railway bridges were built in the 19th century and are old at this point in time, we're calling for an inspection and assessment of the whole stock of bridges that CIE have in their network, of which we estimate there are about 600.

"We estimate that it would probably cost in the region of €2 million to have them all assessed."

Earlier this week, Iarnród Éireann suggested the repair work at Malahide could last at least three months.

The firm said it plans to construct a single strengthened span over the collapsed section, supported by enhanced abutments to existing piers, before the reinstatement of line and services.
News Image
Belfast to Dublin Enterprise service will also be badly disrupted following the collapse of the flood-hit railway viaduct.

Meanwhile, the BBC has reported today that a scout leader who travelled over the rail section in question warned about erosion on a rail viaduct several days before part of it collapsed.

Ivan Barratt takes scouts canoeing two to three times a week around the Broadmeadow Estuary Rail viaduct.

Mr Barrat said he had noticed serious erosion on the structure on 14 August and phoned to warn Iarnród Éireann - but the company said an inspection found the damage was cosmetic, rather than structural.

"I suspect if it was just looking down from the rails (the examination), looking down from above, everything would appear normal," he told the BBC.

"But I think if it was a case of getting into a boat of some sort and going out to inspect the arch itself - and it would need to have been when the tide was at the correct height - then it would have been quite evident that there was a problem.

"For somebody without any engineering qualifications it was evident there was a problem, I'm quite sure a qualified engineer inspecting should have recognised straight off," he said, noting that swift action could have prevented the collapse.

See: Iarnród Éireann 'Aware Of Bridge Erosion'

See: Disaster Averted As Rail Bridge Fails

(PR/BMcc/GK)

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