Rail services resume between Ennis and Limerick

Rail services resume between Ennis and Limerick


A test train ran along the line at Ballycar on Monday before it was declared safe to reopen – Photo: © Pat Flynn, 2014

Rail services between Ennis to Limerick will resume this morning (Tuesday) the first since the line was closed on February 2nd due to severe flooding.

Yesterday, a test train travelled the affected section of track at Ballycar near Newmarket on Fergus, Co Clare which was left beneath up to 2 metres of water in places.

It has be 110 days since services operated between the two stations and the third time in recent years that the line had to be closed for an extended period as a result of flooding.

Specialist divers spent two days last week investigating what damage, if any, had been caused to the line by it prolonged submersion in water.

Stone ballast along the embankment on which the tracks sits was disturbed by the flood waters while debris, mostly reeds, was left deposited on rails after the waters receded.

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 because of flooding.

This year however was the longest time that the line was out of service due to flooding while Iarnród Éireann had to operate a replacement bus service during that time.

Iarnród Éireann confirmed: “The line had been closed since 2nd February, due to extensive flooding in the Ballycar area, with water levels peaking at almost 2 metres above the rail line. The closure was prolonged due to the slow draining nature of the karst landscape in the area. Bus transfers had been substituting the rail service throughout the closure.”

With the line set to reopen today, the company has moved to remind those living along the line that trains will once again be operating on the route and that road users should be vigilant at level crossings.

Iarnród Éireann has apologised to customers for the inconvenience from the prolonged disruption to services.

Meanwhile, the rail company remains in dispute with the Office of Public Works (OPW) over where responsibility lies for the flooding of the rail line.

The OPW has consistently stated that flooding in the area impacts primarily on the railway line and that it’s 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 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
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.