Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

'Maintenance failures' found in Malahide viaduct report

rail line damage
The viaduct at Malahide collapsed in August

A report on the collapse of a railway viaduct has found there was a failure as staff did not know the type of structure they were dealing with.

The collapse of the Malahide viaduct closed a large section of the Belfast to Dublin rail line for three months.

The independent report found that over the years, rail staff became unaware the piers were resting on rocks and not pile-driven into the sea bed.

It was commissioned by Iarnrod Eireann after the viaduct's collapse.

The report found that increased water flow due to land development and climate change brought on the collapse.

Staff did not realise the structure was two components - a viaduct on top of a causeway made of large rocks - making the piers liable to erosion.

The report recommended that in future, knowledge is passed on by Iarnrod Eireann staff who move or retire.

It also found a warning from Malahide Sea Scouts was misunderstood by the company's engineer who went to inspect the bridge but examined the pier and not the causeway.

No individual member of staff will be held responsible for what happened.


However, a train driver and signal operator have been commended for their actions on the day, which prevented what would have been "a catastrophic loss of life".

Meanwhile, the company has rejected claims that it had received a warning in 2006 about erosion on the bridge.

Iarnrod Eireann was responding to a report in Thursday's Irish Independent that it had been warned about serious erosion three years before the collapse.

The company said the 2006 Bridge Scour inspection of the Malahide viaduct, carried out by independent specialist diver engineers, did not state that there was any reason for concern at that time.

It did recommend that as the bridge was susceptible to scour, underwater examinations should continue at intervals of not more than six years.

A major accident was narrowly avoided on 21 August last year following the collapse of a section of the viaduct.

As a result, the rail line was closed for almost three months, reopening last November after repairs estimated at more than four million euros were carried out.

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