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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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After five months under water, this flooded railway line is finally set to re-open*

*Subject to a successful test run this afternoon, that is.

FIVE MONTHS AFTER it was closed due to flooding, the Limerick to Ennis railway line is expected to re-open this afternoon.

The line has been closed since December last year, when heavy rainfall at Ballycar flooded the tracks.

Even after the heavy rainfalls stopped in January, heavy inflows from Ballycar Lough continued to flood the line – at one point peaking at 1.4 metres above the rail in March.

Commuters have had to rely on a bus transfer service between Limerick and Ennis stations since the flooding started, and many have been anxious to know when train services will resume.

It’s not the first time the line has been badly affected by flooding.

Despite extensive works to raise the track by 60 centimetres in 2003, it was closed for several months in 2014 when water levels rose to 1.9 metres above the railway track.

Although a number of fresh schemes have been proposed to alleviate the flooding in future, these would involve raising the line over a distance of over two miles.

The estimated cost of these works, which would be funded by the Department of Transport, is €10 million.

“It’s an expensive option and funding for this scheme is currently unavailable,” said Valerie Scott, assistant regional manager (west) for Iarnród Éireann Infrastructure.

Iarnród Éireann has released an explanatory video showing why the Limerick – Ennis line is particularly prone to flooding.

The track at Ballycar is a landlocked limestone area which is quick to flood and extremely slow to drain – usually at a rate of 25mm a day – according to Scott.

Source: Iarnrod Eireann/YouTube

The railway line is expected to re-open today but an inspection train will first depart from Limerick for Ennis at 1.30pm this afternoon.

If that is successful, normal services will resume a few hours later, starting from 4.30pm.

Commuters will be hoping there are no more heavy rainfalls anytime soon…

Read: Rail track that was raised by 60 centimetres…is now 50 centimetres under water

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