Tracks to be closed for several weeks

 

A POTENTIALLY serious rail tragedy was averted in Dublin yesterday as a viaduct collapsed moments after a train passed over it.

Some 20m (65ft) of the viaduct over the Broadmeadow estuary between Malahide and Donabate in north Co Dublin collapsed shortly after 6pm.

Rail services north of Malahide and the Enterprise service between Belfast and Dublin will be closed for “at least several weeks” due to the severe damage to the bridge, Barry Kenny of Iarnród Éireann said last night.

The subsidence began as the 18.07 train from Balbriggan to Connolly station passed over the viaduct. There were 40-50 passengers on board.

The driver noticed the serious subsidence starting and the embankment beginning to give way on the northbound track.

He alerted control and raised the alarm at Malahide station. However, Mr Kenny said control would have been alerted as the track circuits would have gone when the bridge collapsed.

However, Mr Kenny said he could not underestimate how serious the incident was.

Iarnród Éireann said there is “little doubt” the tidal estuary was a factor in the incident. The company is investigating the full circumstances but said the issue was likely to be the viaduct rather than the track.

The entire route was redone in 1997, which makes it relatively new in rail terms, Mr Kenny said.

The rail accident investigation unit of the Department of Transport will also carry out an independent investigation.

Some 90 trains a day pass over the bridge. Rail commuters travelling north of Malahide are being advised to travel by Dublin Bus or Bus Éireann services.

Bus transfers are being arranged for services between Belfast and Dublin. A rail shuttle service is operating between Drogheda and Skerries

Iarnród Éireann last night apologised for any inconvenience but said it expected disruption to continue for a “significant period of time”. Thousands of GAA fans travelling from Tyrone to Croke Park on Sunday for the All-Ireland football semi-final will be affected by the rail closure.