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Tuesday 23 July 2019

Severe coastal erosion threatens future of rail line

Irish Rail (Stock photo)
Irish Rail (Stock photo)
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Irish Rail faces being forced to shut down services to Rosslare Harbour in just over a decade due to severe coastal erosion which is threatening the line.

A Department of Transport report outlines major risks to our transport infrastructure as global warming takes hold, warning: "Transport must now begin to prepare for Ireland's new climate reality."

It highlights extreme weather events linked with climate change over recent years which resulted in national and regional roads being closed to traffic, train and bus services being cancelled and ports being shut down. It also warns of immediate risks.

The Eastern rail corridor, which serves the coast from Dublin to Rosslare Harbour in Wexford, is subject to "ongoing and gradual erosion", with as much as three metres of coastline being washed away in some years, the 'Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Transport Sector' report says.

The cliff that supports the line is being "eroded by storm events", and the sea is 135 metres further inland today than in 1905. The line is at risk of being put out of service before 2030, it adds.

It adds that if projections on changing weather patterns come to pass, by mid-century Shannon Airport will be at "increased risk" of being flooded, with closure of major national and regional roads becoming more frequent, coupled with risks to infrastructure, motorists and public transport passenger safety and comfort.

The report sets out the climate science, noting that annual average temperatures are forecast to be up to 1.6C warmer in Ireland by 2050.

Irish Independent

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