Rail line closed again due to flooding at Ballycar

Rail line closed again due to flooding at Ballycar

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File Photo: Pat Flynn © 2014

Iarnród Éireann has again been forced to close a section of the Limerick to Galway rail line because of severe flooding.

The line at Ballycar near Newmarket on Fergus has been repeatedly closed for months at a time in recent years due to flooding including for 140 days in 2016 and 110 days in 2014.

The OPW has repeatedly denied that the flooding issues at Ballycar are their problem and has claimed because Irish Rail would be the only beneficiary of flood relief works, they should pay for them.

The company was forced to commission and fund a study into how best to address the flooding problems at Ballycar.

The ‘Ballycar Lough Flood Study’ was completed in October 2011 and concluded: “The cause of the flooding is the works carried out by the OPW in 1929 when they increased the catchment area.”

Flood waters have risen to as much as 1.60m above the railway track during previous flooding incidents despite works by Iarnród Éireann to raise the track level by 60 centimetres at Ballycar in 2003.

File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

The company had been monitoring water levels in the area following recent heavy rain. The line will close tonight after the last service from Ennis to Limerick.

Iarnród Éireann has now advised customers that bus transfers will be in operation between Limerick and Ennis from tomorrow (Saturday 27th) until further notice.

No trains will operate between Limerick and Ennis while services between Ennis to Galway, which has been affected previously, will continue to operate.

The company has said: “Iarnród Éireann will monitor flood levels which are continuing to rise, and advise customers on likely service restoration dates when flood levels begin to recede. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

“The railway track at Ballycar Lough has flooded on a number of occasions in recent years. This flooding has led to temporary closures of the railway line for extended periods of up to 20 weeks at a time, although this closure is not expected to be as prolonged,” the spokesperson added.

Former Minister with responsibility for the OPW Seán Canney and Clare’s four TD’s at Ballycar last year – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

In February last year, then Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW and Flood Relief Minister Seán Canney visited Ballycar. He was accompanied by Clare’s four oireachtas members and spoke with locals about the long running flooding issues.

The minister said at the time that he was committed to the future of the Western Rail Corridor and wanted to see the matter resolved and that he would make every effort to secure the future of the line.

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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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