By Dan Walsh
Iarnrod Éireann has communicated with South East on Track to announce plans to pin Ireland’s longest railway bridge, the Barrow Bridge near Great Island in Co. Wexford into the ‘open-to-shipping’ position.
Constructed in 1906, the Bridge has continuously operated for over a century although regular passenger services on the line ceased in 2010.
Following a ship striking the bridge in February 2022, Iarnrod Éireann has announced plans to pin the bridge in the open-to-shipping position by the end of December 2022. Iarnrod Éireann has noted that significant repairs have become necessary costing in the region of €5-10 million and these repairs are expected to commence once funding has been obtained from the vessel’s insurers.
South East on Track has written to Iarnrod Eireannn seeking clarification on the decision to pin the bridge open, as well as requesting that the work proceed as soon as possible without waiting for funding from the ship’s insurers.
A series of maintenance trains crossed the bridge in 2022, after the damage took place.
In 1991 a ship struck the Barrow Bridge requiring repairs in the region of £3-5 million.
These repairs were completed in three months, with the High Court case involving Irish Rail and the ship’s insurers lasting until 2001.
As a result of this, South East on Track is asking Irish Rail to proceed with the repairs and not wait until the funds are dispersed.
The Wexford-Waterford railway line is currently under examination for reopening as part of the All-Island Strategic Rail Review and it is imperative that the Barrow Bridge being out of service does not impact on the overall viability of the line.