Saturday 19 October 2019

Landslide derails train and closes commuter line

Conor Kane

IARNROD Eireann was yesterday forced to close a busy commuter line on the same day that its service along the Malahide viaduct re-opened after its dramatic collapse three months ago.

While the northern service through Malahide resumed yesterday with user numbers "significantly" down, other rail passengers face two weeks of disruption after a train derailed yesterday following a landslide.

Yesterday's incident occurred at about 6am on a stretch of line a few hundred yards south of the Wicklow station, and after a weekend of heavy rain.

The driver of the out-of-service train, which was heading to Arklow, escaped without injury after it derailed when it hit debris caused by a landslide.

The incident occurred less than 48 hours after a different section of the same line was closed when rail staff found an embankment to be unstable, south of Arklow.

Regular users of the line, which carries inter-city rail traffic between Dublin and Rosslare as well as commuter trains serving Gorey and stations along east Wicklow, will be transferred by bus for the next fortnight while Iarnrod Eireann carries out remedial work to the area involved.

The landslide between Wicklow and Arklow follows the forced closure last Saturday of the line between Arklow and Gorey because of an unstable embankment, with the entire stretch of eastern railway between Wicklow and Gorey now closed to passenger trains.

Iarnrod Eireann's spokesman, Barry Kenny, described the landslide as "quite a significant one" and said the debris caused the front carriage to leave the track.

"There was only the driver on board and, thankfully, he was unharmed," he said.

The rail company will now have to clear the area of debris and ensure that the land around the line isn't prone to further landslides.

Separately, Iarnrod Eireann is carrying out work to an embankment south of Arklow which was found to be unstable.

The landslide came just 10 months after the same line had to close for a number of days following a rock fall near Bray Head, and a landlslide near Arklow days later.

Those incidents led to the suspension of the Dart between Bray and Greystones as well as the inter-city and commuter services.

Meanwhile, passenger numbers on the Malahide line were down on pre-accident figures following the re-opening of the aqueduct, Mr Kenny said.

However, he pointed out that many passengers will continue to use bus services while they retain monthly passes for November and that Iarnrod Eireann expects use of the rail line through Malahide to be "back to normal" by the end of the month.

Some members of the public would also prefer to see the service running smoothly for a few days before returning themselves, he said.

"It would be significantly lower but that is, on day one, to be expected."

Irish Independent

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