Train crash into barrier prompts Irish Rail probe
An investigation is underway after a train smashed through a closed level crossing just yards from a housing estate.
Residents in Castleconnell, Co Limerick, were left reeling after the 7pm Ballybrophy to Limerick train sounded its horn and screeched its breaks before careering through the busy crossing, which was open to road traffic at the time.
"It was a miracle no one was walking on the road or passing through in a car or on a bike at the time. It's a busy road," said one shocked local man.
Iarnród Éireann has launched a formal investigation into the incident, which happened on Saturday.
The level crossing gates are opened and closed by a local gatekeeper, who was not available for comment.
There are unconfirmed reports the woman had to abandon an attempt to open the gates seconds before the train ploughed through them.
"She was shaking. A crowd went up to her to check was she alright," said neighbour Elaine Franklin (27).
"I heard the beeping and then a bang. It was unbelievable," she said. "It was so close."
Another man living next to the rail line said: "The gates were smashed to pieces."
Several people living next to the scene of the crash said they heard a long "loud screeching" as the train approached the level crossing.
Iarnród Éireann described the incident as "very serious".
Barry Kenny, Iarnród Éireann spokesman, said nobody was injured and there were no passengers on board the scheduled service.
A statement released by Mr Kenny added: "It has been noted that the train experienced significant low rail adhesion at the approach to the crossing - low rail adhesion is a seasonal issue during the leaf fall season, which can reduce the grip between the train wheel and the rail.
"However, this is one factor and the investigation will examine all factors - technical, mechanical and human factors - to establish the cause of the incident," he added.
"This was a very serious incident, given the potential consequences had a vehicle or pedestrian been passing through the crossing at the time."
Mr Kenny said the level crossing in question is used by trains up to five times a day.
He said under normal operation, "the signalman contacts gatekeepers to alert that the train is approaching".
He confirmed the gatekeeper was at the gates at the time of the crash.
The train driver was not injured but "was relieved from duty and offered the opportunity of any support necessary", Mr Kenny said.
He confirmed the train was braking as it approached and stopped approximately 60m past the crossing.