Railway viaduct collapse disrupts Dublin-Belfast Enterprise service

PhotobucketThe collapse of the viaduct carrying the railway line across the estuary at Mallahide, Dublin, looks likely to disrupt the Belfast-Dublin service for “a significant period of time.” But it could have been worse.. [updated quote]

Iarnród Éireann has said the collapse had the potential to be a serious tragedy. A 20 metre section of viaduct on the Broadmeadow estuary, between Malahide and Donabate gave way at around 6.20pm. The damaged line was noticed by the driver of the 6.07pm train travelling from Balbriggan to Pearse station. He drove to Malahide station and reported what he had seen. All other trains were immediately stopped from using the line.

Adds From the Irish Times report

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. Mr Kenny pointed out that if the driver hadn’t contacted control, they would have been alerted as the track circuits would have gone when the bridge collapsed.

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  • Mark McGreg

    Jesus Christ. That could have been a serious disaster and should result in a major infrastructe check north and south – I doubt such a check will occur and the accident that has just been avoided by luck will just get closer.

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    According to the updated RTÉ report

    Iarnród Éireann says it will be investigating the incident fully.

    The company says lines are inspected regularly and viaducts have a maintenance regime.

    Some “maintenance regime”.

  • RepublicanStones

    This could screw up a few peoples plans for the big match.

  • Mark McGreg

    Pete,

    I’d like to see a definition of ‘regularly inspected’ after this. If they mean a track walker once a week it isn’t good enough. They aren’t experts and focus on tracks, they certainly don’t know anything about bridges from my experience. And I know that NIR had a 10 nph limit for years over a small unstable bridge just before Sydenham – seriously, years.

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    I don’t doubt it.

  • Information Minister Barry Kenny will be along in a minute to tell us that this is actually good news for Irish Rail.

  • I have to say, as a long time veteran of the Belfast-Dublin line, that wasn’t the viaduct I was worried about. Silly me.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There needs to be a formal enquiry into how this catastrophic structural failure went undetected. My recollection is that the Malahide viaduct was extensively overhauled about ten years ago. Any investigation would have to focus on the standard of the works at that time.

    A fully loaded Enterprise has – what – about 600 people on board ? There was a very real possibility here for the worst accident in Irish railway history.

  • There is no doubt of the seriousness of what happened, but,for a little light relief, the coverage in the Daily Mirror today is priceless. As the Irish Times story above says, and every other report confirms,the driver of a southern bound train noticed the subsidence starting on the northern side of the track as he passed the scene. He continued over the bridge and then raised the alarm.

    The Mirror, which unfortunately does not seem to be online, says the driver instead `slammed on the brakes seconds before the 6.07pm from Balbriggan to Pearse Station would have plunged into the water’, thereby saving hundreds of lives.

    Reporter Naomi McElroy remarkably managed to find a `terrified passenger’ who apparently witnessed the whole episode.

    `Thank God that driver was paying attention. Without him, the train would have plunged straight over and into the sea. I don’t like to think about how close we all came to dying – it was probably just a matter of feet. He saved all our lives today,’ said the amazingly unnamed witness.

    This graphic account of an incident which never happened is of course exclusive to the Mirror. Its follow-up should be worth waiting for on Monday.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mr Kenny pointed out that if the driver hadn’t contacted control, they would have been alerted as the track circuits would have gone when the bridge collapsed.

    Mr Kenny is, in all likelihood, talking bollocks. The photographs above quite clearly show that the rails are still in situ, albeit without anything supporting them – they did not actually break which would mean that the track circuit would have remained in place.

  • Comrade Stalin – a classic Information Minister moment! Thanks for that.

  • Fantasia

    Classic Irish Times..
    The damaged line was noticed by the driver of the 6.07pm train travelling from Balbriggan to Pearse station.

    From the Irish Times report

    The subsidence began as the 18.07 train from Balbriggan to Connolly station passed over the viaduct.

    The 18.07 pm train is actually the 6.07 am train.
    The paper of record. Now that says it all.