A Co Tipperary rail bridge has been hit by road transport vehicles over 40 times since 2009, making it the most struck rail bridge in the country.
That’s according to Irish Rail’s first annual safety report, which has been published for 2016.
Data in Irish Rail’s report reveals there had been a total of 92 incidents where vehicles have struck rail bridges last year — up from 85 in 2015. However, Irish Rail said it was a marked improvement on previous years, given that the figure was over 200 per year in the middle of the last decade.
The most struck railway bridge in the country is Carrick-on-Suir, hit 41 times from 2009 until February last when it was replaced with a higher bridge. During that period, the bridge was struck, on average, five times every year.
Irish Rail is trialling innovative signage technologies to alert road users to upcoming height restrictions at problematic locations.
The report, Comparative Statistics, shows Iarnród Éireann is one of the safest railways in Europe. Despite the encouraging statistics, the company is ever conscious that complacency has no place within safety culture, and is continuously striving to improve its safety record, the report notes.
The instances of signals being passed at danger (when they are showing a red light) fell by two to 16 in 2016 and are down 66% in the past 10 years.
Irish Rail said the reduction had been achieved despite the lack of a modern train protection system which automatically prevents trains from passing signals at danger or over-speeding, and is used across most European railways.
Only the DART currently has a comparable Automatic Train Protection system.
Incidents at level crossings, meanwhile, fell from 88 in 2015 to 56 in 2016.
CEO David Franks said despite the improvements in safety, there was no room for complacency:
“Iarnród Éireann together with our internal and external stakeholders are working hard to ensure that our safety culture continues to improve and our record of being one of the safest railways in Europe remains. We are working hard to mitigate risks and to improve education and learning on safety.”
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