Ennis to Limerick rail line set to reopen

Ennis to Limerick rail line set to reopen

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Iarnród Éireann and contract commercial diving company staff complete a survey of the rail line – Photo: © Pat Flynn, 2014

A stretch of rail line that has been closed for over 100 days due to flooding is set to reopen on Tuesday next.

It’s the third time in 6 years the Limerick to Ennis line at Ballycar near Newmarket on Fergus has had to be closed because of severe flooding however this was the longest period the line has been out of service.

Specialist divers spent two days this week investigating what damage, if any, was caused to the one kilometre stretch which was left under 8 feet of water in places following the St Brigid’s Day Storm.

Iarnród Éireann has now confirmed that a test train will operate on the line on Monday and the services between Ennis and Limerick will resume on Tuesday.

The company says this is subject to no issues arising from the test train operation however they don’t foresee any difficulties.

The announcement is welcome news for Ennis in particular as the town marks the 40th year of the Fleadh Nua next week.

A spokeswoman said: “Those living along the line are reminded that trains will once again be operating on the line. Road users are asked to be vigilant at level crossing. Remember do not trespass on the live railway at any time.

While the OPW has washed it’s hands of the flooding problem, a study commissioned by Iarnród Éireann and published in October 2011 blamed the repeated flooding on works undertaken by the OPW over 85 years ago.

Five homes close to the rail line were also left cut off for over 90 days after flood waters submerged the road at Ballycar.

Clare County Council is already investigating the possibility of raising the road in the area to ensure that residents have access to their homes in case of future floods.

Despite raising the line by 60cm in 2003, rail services were also suspended for seven weeks in February 2008 and for a further eight weeks late in 2009 after the railway became submerged in floodwaters.

The OPW has consistently stated that this flooding impacts primarily on the railway line and because the line would be the main beneficiary of flood mitigation measures it is a matter for Iarnród Éireann, as owners of the railway line, to resolve their problem.

Iarnród Éireann has said however: “The issue to be addressed is not on our land and the flooding affects other landowners and roadways. Flood alleviation works could have potential effects on other areas, including centres of population. The OPW have the legal authority and expertise to undertake the necessary works.”

The rail line today after flood waters finally receded - Photo: © Pat Flynn, 2014
The rail line today after flood waters finally receded – Photo: © Pat Flynn, 2014
The same stretch of rail line on March 11th - Photo: Pat Flynn © 2014
The same stretch of rail line on March 11th – Photo: Pat Flynn © 2014
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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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