Vandals 'may have dumped boulder'
Vandals may have been responsible for a Dart train derailment, Irish Rail has said.
Two sets of wheels on one carriage came off the track after the last service out of Greystones, Co Wicklow last night struck a boulder.
Gardai have been called in to investigate how the rockfall was caused.
A large hole can be seen next to the coastal path which runs along the cliff face above the busy Dart line sparking concerns that the boulder was dumped on the track deliberately.
"It's believed it may have been caused by vandals. It is a large boulder. There's evidence from above on the walkway between Bray and Greystones that a boulder has been dislodged," a spokeswoman for Irish Rail said.
Irish Rail chairman Phil Gaffney raised the same concerns when he was before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications.
The accident happened on the Bray side of a tunnel one about mile from the town's busy station when two sets of wheels, known as bogies, on a four carriage train, came off the track.
There were 33 passengers and the driver on the 11.10pm Dart service from Greystones to Connolly and no-one was injured.
The railway line was closed until mid-morning with busy commuter services and also trains to Rosslare disrupted as checks took place on the track and hillsides around the tunnel.
Irish Rail said no-one suffered any injuries in the incident and it apologised to affected customers.
Services have been running normally since the line reopened at 9.50am.
The boulder which caused the derailment was 2ft across.
The train suffered only minor damage while the impact and damage on the rail lines were not significant, Irish Rail said.
The company appealed for anyone with information on the suspected vandalism to contact its information lines or local gardai.
"The potential was there for a far more serious incident," spokesman Barry Kenny said.
"Obviously last night, in the darkness, it was difficult to establish where the rock came from but when it was reviewed at first light it was fairly obvious that it was a rock from a boundary wall above."
Gardai said that from initial investigations it appears that rocks may have been dislodged deliberately.
Stretches of the cliff side path between Bray and Greystones are guarded on one side by walls made up of large boulders and blocks cemented into place.
There are also sections of wire and steel mesh attached to the slope and rock faces at certain points to act as a stabiliser for sheer cliffs and above the railway lines on some points to act as nets to catch rockfalls.
The area where the boulder came from showed no sign of rockfall or landslide.
Irish Rail said its investigations showed the dislodged piece was a coping stone from the top of the boundary wall on the cliff side.
There is no CCTV along that section of the cliff walk.
Darts can seat anywhere from 128 to 160 passengers at capacity and do a maximum speed of 100kmh but o n the section where the derailment happened trains run at a restricted speed of about 50kmh.
Investigating gardai said they are anxious to speak to anyone who was on the cliff walk between 8pm and midnight or anyone who may have witnessed a group on individuals at the start of the cliff walk in Bray or Greystones.
Mr Gaffney described the suspected vandalism as reprehensible.
"Actions like this are extremely serious and reprehensible and could have resulted in serious injury to the driver and passengers," the chairman said.