Severe weather conditions brings State’s transport network to a standstill

Irish Rail spokesman says disruption “unprecedented”

Limerick resident Jill Holmes tells how she watched her balcony door fall onto the street as the side of her apartment building was ripped off in today's storm. Video: David Raliegh

Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 06:40


The severe weather caused major disruption to the State’s transport network as buses, trains, flights and ferry crossings were cancelled yesterday, while many more services were affected by long delays, with the southeast suffering most.

Transport operators are hopeful that services will return to normal today after the storms abated yesterday afternoon, but warned that some damage will take time to repair and will have knock-on effects.

Irish Rail suspended train routes between Dublin and Cork and Kerry and Limerick. Services between Limerick and Athenry, as well as between Arklow and Gorey, were also cancelled. Road blockages as a result of fallen trees prevented bus transfers operating between Dublin and southern counties.

Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny last night said the conditions experienced yesterday were unprecedented. “I can’t remember anything like this before,” he said. “Huge swathes of the network have been affected. I’ve been working here 20 years and I can’t think of anything as significant as this in terms of weather effects. There is a 35-mile stretch of line between Limerick junction and Mallow and our crew has had to remove 21 trees from that section. That’s an indicator of how bad it is.”

He said the timetable “had to go out the window” in yesterday’s conditions. “Trains are out of position and lines are closed. On some trains, we had crew on board with chainsaws and tools to remove trees from the track. We had to reduce speed on quite a lot of lines as well. The key was getting people home and getting trains into stations.”

He said there was “no indication” of any long-term damage to the network last night, but trees were still to be cleared from tracks and the situation would be evaluated more fully in due course.

Bus Éireann services were also disrupted by the weather. All services departing from Limerick and Tralee were cancelled. Galway city services were initially cancelled but resumed last night. Fallen trees and other obstacles on roads caused widespread delays. AA Roadwatch reported an “unprecedented number of trees down on the roads which have made travelling very difficult”.

Gardaí appealed to motorists, particularly in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Kildare and west Wicklow, which were on a status red wind warning, to avoid unnecessary journeys.

The AA reported at least three overturned trucks causing closures on the M8 Cork/Dublin road, while a jacknifed truck on the Cork-Limerick road caused a 16km tailback from Buttevant to Mallow. In Kerry, motorists were advised to avoid the Dingle peninsula, where there had been “a lot of debris flying around, including shed roofs”. The river Lee in Cork City became impassable due to flooding.

The N11 Dublin-Wexford road was impassable both ways between Kilcroney and Newcastle. Motorists were advised to avoid the Wicklow Gap and Sally Gap. Flights were disrupted at Cork, Shannon and Kerry airports. Dublin Airport experienced flight diversions, cancellations and delays.

All Irish Ferries Dublin Swift sailings had been cancelled until further notice last night, while Stena Line suspended all crossings on the Irish Sea until at least this evening.