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Limerick to Ennis line closed due to flooding until further notice

18 March 2024

Disruption expected to continue for many weeks due to flooding at Ballycar, bus transfers in operation

Iarnród Éireann advises customers that flood waters have risen significantly at Ballycar on the Limerick to Ennis railway line in recent days.  As a result, the line between Limerick and Ennis is now closed, and services are suspended, until further notice

Bus transfers are in operation between Limerick and Ennis in both directions for all services, meaning:

  • Limerick to Ennis and Ennis to Limerick services are replaced by bus
  • Limerick to Galway and Galway to Limerick involve a bus transfer between Limerick and Ennis, and train between Ennis and Galway

Iarnród Éireann apologises for the inconvenience caused.

While this is the first time in four years that the line has closed due to flooding,  the railway track at Ballycar Lough has flooded on a number of occasions in recent years.   The flooding occurs due to the cumulative affect of rainfall, and the slow drainage associated within Ballycar’s geological and hydrogeological environment.  As a result, the line is expected to be closed for many weeks. 

Iarnród Éireann will monitor flood levels which are continuing to rise, and advise customers on likely service restoration dates when flood levels begin to recede. 

Ballycar on Thurs 14th March 2024

Ballycar Lough

Ballycar Lough and its environs lie within a geological and hydrogeological environment where the underlying limestone rock and thin covering of soil and bedrock exposure combine to produce a shallow network of springs, turloughs and disappearing streams.  The causes of flooding at Ballycar Lough are mainly the prolonged sustained rainfall in Ballycar Lough catchment coupled with the natural constriction to the outflow stream of Ballycar Lough located between the swallow hole and the spring.

Previous flood event in Ballycar

Flood waters rose to a maximum height of 1.60m above the railway track during some flood events, despite works which saw Iarnród Éireann has previously raised the track level by 60 centimetres at Ballycar in 2003 to mitigate against the effects of flooding.  In addition to causing disruption to rail services, these flood events also caused disruption to the water supply to Newmarket on Fergus as well as blocking local roads and restricting access to farming lands.

 

Flood relief options for Ballycar

A report on flood relief options at Ballycar was undertaken by Consultant Engineers RPS for Iarnród Éireann and stakeholder representatives from Clare County Council, the Office of Public Works (OPW), the Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) and the National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS). This study recommends a new preferred option of a technically viable drainage scheme that would (i) prevent flooding of the railway occurring whilst also (ii) including any flood mitigation measures downstream that would be necessary either directly or indirectly with this option.  

Iarnród Éireann believes the report meets the desired objective to identify the most appropriate technically feasible drainage solution to address the flooding at Ballycar. The indicative costs for the proposed solution is €16.7M including VAT (2020 estimate), and for this project to proceed a funding source will need to be identified by the Exchequer, and – given the works are away from railway property – a responsible agency nominated.  The report has been issued to the relevant State department and agencies for their consideration.  When a funding source is identified this will permit the project to progress with the steps involved including the appointment of a consultant and the progression of the project through preliminary and detailed design. 

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