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2003
Cahir derailment
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7  October  2003

*To ask the Minister for Transport the circumstances surrounding the derailment of a freight train on the Limerick/Waterford line; the implications which this has for the line and rail freight; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Denis Naughten.

For PNQ answer on Tuesday, 7th October, 2003.

Ref No:   22887/03

To ask the Minister for Transport the circumstances surrounding the Cahir train derailment; the implications this will have in both the short and long term on the transport of beet by rail; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Paul Kehoe.

For PNQ answer on Tuesday, 7th October, 2003.

Ref No:   22906/03

*To ask the Minister for Transport the circumstances surrounding the derailment of a cement train at Cahir, County Tipperary; the structural damage caused to the viaduct; the implications which this has for the future of the rail line; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Tom Hayes.

For PNQ answer on Tuesday, 7th October, 2003.

Ref No:   22908/03

*To ask the Minister for Transport the inquiry which is planned into the derailment of a freight train near Cahir, County Tipperary on 7 September 2003 and the consequent collapse of a section of the bridge known as the Cahir Viaduct; the steps being taken to review safety procedures at such locations in view of the crash and the potential consequences had this been a passenger train; the implications for the future of the Waterford/Limerick Junction line; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Róisín Shortall.

For PNQ answer on Tuesday, 7th October, 2003.

Ref No:   22931/03

Answered by the Minister for Transport Seamus Brennan, TD

REPLY

I propose to take all the questions together.

This morning Iarnród Éireann notified the chief railway inspecting officer of my Department of a railway incident involving a freight train, which occurred earlier this morning on the Limerick-Waterford rail line. Thankfully, I understand, no injuries were sustained.

I have been advised by Iarnród Éireann of the preliminary details of the incident. The incident occurred when the 3.35 a.m. Limerick to Waterford bulk cement train derailed as it passed over the River Suir viaduct outside Cahir. The train comprised two locomotives and 22 wagons. The locomotives and one wagon remained fully on the track, with a further nine wagons becoming derailed but remaining on the track bed. The remaining 12 wagons fell from the centre span of the viaduct and landed on the bank of the river or, in some cases, in the river itself. These wagons were extensively damaged. Part of the viaduct and a section of track between the viaduct and Cahir station were also extensively damaged.

The circumstances surrounding the derailment are currently being investigated by Iarnród Éireann's mechanical and infrastructure engineers to determine the cause of the accident.

Due to the level of damage sustained, the line has been closed and I understand that preliminary indications are that it may remain closed for some time. The extent of the damage is currently being assessed by Iarnród Éireann and this will allow the company to estimate the length of time needed to carry out the necessary repairs. Meanwhile, Iarnród Éireann is making every effort to assist in setting up alternative arrangements for its passengers and for its freight customers, including its beet and cement customers.

I have been advised that the Garda Síochána, the Civil Defence and officers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the local authority and the fisheries board have been in attendance at the site. The chief railway inspecting officer of my Department is in attendance and will meet Iarnród Éireann's chief engineer at the site.

The details I have given to the House are based on the initial information provided to me by Iarnród Éireann and the chief railway inspecting officer. I have asked for a more detailed report on the incident from the chief railway inspecting officer on his return. I have also asked Iarnród Éireann that I be provided with the findings of its investigation when it is completed.