Broadmeadow collapse: “However good we may be at building things, we are woeful at maintaining them”

As Pete noted in detail here, Irish Rail’s estimate of three months plus for getting the Broadmeadow viaduct back up is a gross underestimation verging on a crass PR ploy to mollify irate commuters. Today’s Irish Times editorial takes if further and notes the implications or the rest of the Irish railway network:

Given that all of the remaining 10 piers standing in Broadmeadow estuary are subject to the same tidal scouring as the one that crumbled on Friday last, complete replacement might be the preferable long-term solution. Clearly, however, a project of such magnitude cannot be completed in a few months.

What all of this highlights is that, however good we may be at building things, we are woeful at maintaining them. Railway bridges are the most vulnerable sections of any rail network and, as Mark Gleeson said, “it is essential that all bridges are inspected nationwide to ensure no critical faults have been overlooked”. Although strapped for cash due to Government cutbacks – which, ironically, might include closure of the Limerick Junction-Rosslare line, as recommended by the McCarthy report –Iarnród Éireann must embark on a systematic programme of bridge inspections. A cursory glance is not enough if lives are to be saved.