Trains hit large animals three times a month on average
Irish Rail vehicles have struck animals trying to cross tracks 37 times so far this year
Trains travelling between Cork and Dublin were the most likely to strike a large animal on the tracks over the last three years
Irish Rail trains crash into large animals such as cattle and deer attempting to cross tracks three times a month on average, according to data from the company.
There was an increase last year in the number of such incidents, and this was attributed to livestock roaming more broadly when seeking out grazing pastures due to a prolonged drought.
Figures provided by Irish Rail show trains hit large animals on the tracks 23 times during 2017, on 38 occasions last year, and did so 37 times up to December 1st this year.
In the latest incident on Thursday, a train hit a horse which had strayed on to the line at Adamstown, west Dublin. The horse was killed, while three other horses which had also wandered on to the tracks escaped injury. Rail services were disrupted for a couple of hours.
Trains travelling between Cork and Dublin were the most likely to strike a large animal on the tracks over the last three years, according to a breakdown provided by the transport company.
During one recent incident passengers on the 5.25pm service from Cork to Dublin endured a 7½-hour trip after the train was delayed having hit a cow at Soloheadbeg, Co Tipperary.
There have been 17 such incidents on the line this year following on from 11 last year and eight during 2017.
Asked why animals were most likely to be hit on the Cork to Dublin line, an Irish Rail spokesman said he could not give a “definitive” answer. He said “it may be that there is more agricultural land on this route, and also there is quite a large amount of wild deer in north Tipperary, east Limerick and north Cork”.
The second highest number of collisions between trains and large animals happened on the Dublin to Belfast line. There have been seven such collisions this year after seven were recorded last year and three in 2017.
The Dublin to Galway line saw five collisions with an animal this year, eight last year, and one in 2017.
Trains on the Waterford to Dublin line have struck large animals twice this year, after three incidents last year and five in 2017.
There has been just one such incident on the Dart line over the past three years, while non-passenger trains, which usually operate at night on engineering works, struck three animals this year and three last year.
The spokesman said none of the incidents resulted in any injury to staff or passengers. While “in most instances, without being glib, the animals do tend to come off worse”, there had been “significant damage” to trains in some collisions.
The semi-State rail company said it “will pursue costs where fault is established”.
“We have two instances of costs recovered in 2018 for this,” the spokesman added, but he declined to detail the payments nor what compensation Irish Rail has paid out when it is found to be at fault.
The provision of fencing is Irish Rail’s responsibility, meaning it is liable when large animals access the tracks through a fence.
Ensuring level crossing gates are kept closed and that cattle do not cross without informing a signal person is the livestock owner’s responsibility, Irish Rail said.“Unfortunately from time to time incursions can occur through fences or at level crossings.”