A major disaster on the Cork to Dublin line was averted after a train driver spotted a crack in the chassis of one of the network’s high-speed locomotives.
The crack was found in one of Irish Rail’s 23 201 Class Locomotives, which have been in operation since 1994.
They are the newest and most powerful diesel locomotives currently operating in Ireland.
Built by General Motors, the 3,200 horsepower 108-tonnes engines have a maximum speed of 164 km/h.
On July 7, while it was being hauled from repairs in Dublin by another locomotive, the crack was discovered.
Luckily it was out of service at the time and was going through pre-transfer checks to see if it was able to be returned to service.
The company’s entire fleet of 201s was then inspected over the following 24-hour period after the chassis crack was discovered.
The affected locomotive, 224, has since been taken out of service.
The matter has been referred to the Department of Transport's Railway Accident Investigation Unit.
One Of the issues that will be investigated is to see if the fuel leak was caused by the crack.
Irish Rail spokesperson Barry Kenny confirmed “a structural fault” was identified in 224’s chassis on July 7.
It had been operating the 2.35pm Cork to Dublin Heuston service on July 6 when it was taken out of service at Limerick Junction after a fuel leak was discovered.
Customers were then transferred by a replacement train.
Later that day, Locomotive 224 was hauled to Heuston Station.
It was being prepared for transfer to Inchicore the next day, July 7, to investigate the fault when the driver noted the crack.
All of Irish Rail’s 23 201 Class locomotives were then checked.
Mr Kenny said: “Of the 201 fleet, no such fault has ever occurred before, and all of the 201 locomotive fleet was inspected within the following 24 hours.
“Iarnród Éireann is investigating the incident and has also notified both the Commission for Railway Regulation.
“The Railway Accident Investigation Unit is also undertaking an independent investigation.
The 201 Class locomotives travel at up to 160kmh for 71 miles of the 165-mile length of the Cork to Dublin line.
With the exception of sections through The Curragh and Portarlington, this is predominantly between Heuston and Portlaoise and between Limerick Junction and Charleville.