With the flood waters finally beginning to recede, Iarnród Éireann expects water levels to have dropped sufficiently for a mid May reopening of the railway line between Limerick and Ennis.
Extensive flooding on the line at Ballycar had forced the closure of the rail link since last December. Since then bus transfers were in operation between Limerick and Ennis, with a limited service for Sixmilebridge Station, for the duration of the closure.
The line flooded following a significant increase in water levels at Ballycar Lough due to the heavy rainfall in December and January, and the nature of inflows and outflows from the lough due to the karst landscape in the area.
While the intense rainfall ceased in January, inflows caused flood levels at Ballycar to peak in early March at 1.4 metres above the rail line. This has now fallen to 0.9 metres above the line, with 1.75 miles of track remaining flooded, and Iarnród Éireann forecast that – unless further extreme weather arises – the line will reopen in the middle of May.
The company has released a video, with commentary by Valerie Scott, Assistant Regional Manager (West) for Iarnród Éireann Infrastructure, showing peak flood levels, and detailing the reasons the area is prone to flooding.
A number of schemes have been proposed to alleviate the flooding in future, including raising the line over a significant distance, but funding is currently unavailable for these works. Iarnród Éireann has previously raised the track level by 60 centimetres at Ballycar in 2003 to mitigate against the effects of flooding.