Saturday 21 September 2019

Rail safety fears as rising number of trucks hit bridges

Iarnród Éireann has reported a ‘worrying’ increase in incidents where vehicles have crashed into rail bridges, such as this collision pictured in 2015. Pic: Irish Rail
Iarnród Éireann has reported a ‘worrying’ increase in incidents where vehicles have crashed into rail bridges, such as this collision pictured in 2015. Pic: Irish Rail

Pat Flynn

Iarnród Éireann has reported a 'worrying' increase in incidents where vehicles have crashed into rail bridges.

The company regards 'bridge strikes' as the single most likely cause of a serious rail safety incident on the network.

Not even the added deterrent of penalty points and hefty fines has prevented repeated strikes on bridges.

A total of 95 bridges on the network have been hit so far this year, with the three most struck bridges being hit a total of six times each.

Iarnród Éireann has also confirmed that a major project to raise the height of the bridge at Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, will start in spring.

It has been struck 19 times in the past four years.

"Collisions with bridges by large vehicles are one of the greatest safety risks that Iarnród Éireann faces and the company works closely with the Road Safety Authority and haulier stakeholders to raise awareness of the problem," a company spokesperson said.

Despite this, the number of incidents is on the rise, and has gone up each year since the lowest number of 72 in 2012.

"The number of bridge strikes on the Iarnród Éireann network has reached 95 in 2016.

"This continues a worrying upward trend over the past four years," the spokesperson said.

"The top three most struck bridges in 2016 were Carrick-on-Suir, Bath Avenue in south Dublin City and Strand Road Bridge in Malahide.

"Each has been hit six times over the past 12 months.

"The increase may be explained by an increase in economic activity and construction traffic, but it is still not acceptable that truck drivers in many instances do not know the height of the vehicle they are driving."

The company said the most struck railway bridge in the country has a clearance of 4.5 metres, which would not be considered extremely low.

Yet despite this it has been struck 19 times in the past four years.

"We are appealing to all road users to know the height of your load and plan your journey to avoid bridges that are lower than your load."

Irish Independent

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