Railway Safety Commission publishes audit into Malahide Viaduct Collapse

16 Aug 2010

Failure by Iarnród Éireann to undertake critical safety inspections identified

The Railway Safety Commission, Ireland's independent safety regulator, published its compliance audit into the Broadmeadow Viaduct collapse today. The compliance audit examined whether correct safety management systems were in place and whether key safety checks were being undertaken by the railway operator, Iarnród Éireann, prior to the collapse of the viaduct near Malahide on August 21st 2009.

The RSC found four non compliances by Iarnród Éireann:

  • Front line inspection staff failed to carry out monthly and yearly inspections of the viaduct, as laid out in IÉ standard I-PWY- 1307
  • There was a failure by Engineering grade staff to undertake the required number of inspections/ checks as set out in IÉ standard I-SMS-9021
  • There was a failure to carry out structural inspections and keep proper records using the correct forms, as set out in IÉ standard I-STR-6510
  • Iarnród Éireann had failed to implement a competence assessment for all personnel engaged in safety critical roles in accordance with IÉ Railway Safety Standard 67.

The RSC makes 16 recommendations, including that Iarnród Éireann:

  • Review the need for a Coastal Defence Inspector or inspection team
  • Review the Structural Inspections Standard I-STR-6510, to include all relevant elements, including scour
  • Develop a procedure to manage reports of safety related events, eg information from the public Review patrol ganger (frontline inspection team) competence requirements

Iarnród Éireann was requested and has provided an improvement plan and the RSC will monitor the implementation of this plan closely.
The RSC enforces railway safety legislation through the implementation and supervision of good safety management systems by railway operators and through fostering and encouraging railway safety. In its supervisory role, the RSC carries out planned audits of the safety management systems of all rail operators in Ireland, as well as specific audits following incidents.

The RSC compliance audit into the Broadmeadow viaduct incident is separate and independent of the Railway Accident and Investigation Unit (RAIU) investigation, the findings of which were also published today.

The purpose of an investigation by the RAIU is to investigate for cause - why an incident occurred. The purpose of the RSC audit is to check for compliance with agreed safety standards and legislation. As the regulator, the RSC has the power to bring sanctions under s.76-78 of the Railway Safety Act 2005. Based on the evidence in the RAIU report, the RSC will now consider what sanctions, if any, are appropriate or possible under the legislation.
The RSC audit of the Broadmeadow Viaduct collapse was completed in March this year. However, under s 57(1) of the Railway Safety Act 2005, the RSC cannot make its findings public before the RAIU has published its investigation report.

Says Mary Molloy, Deputy Commissioner of the RSC, "The RSC welcomes the RAIU report. It is of particular concern to us the casual way in which the placement of stone, as a measure to prevent scour, was allowed to stop by Iarnrod Eireann; this matter also needs to be considered in the context of Knowledge Management, sections 30 and 31 of the RAIU report."

Continues Ms. Molloy, "In relation to Recommendations 14 and 15 made by the RAIU about the RSC's own role, we have already implemented Recommendation 14 and are currently planning to implement Recommendation 15, as detailed in p110/1 of the RAIU report."

Ms. Molloy continues: "The issue here is the safety of the travelling public. While Ireland's railway safety record compares well to our European neighbours, we can never allow ourselves, as regulators, or the railway operators, with whom the duty to maintain railway safety lies, to become complacent, no matter how great the workload. The two documents published today show up a range of issues which Iarnród Éireann needs to address. A detailed plan of action has been produced by Iarnród Éireann, which we will be supervising closely. We will be considering whether further sanctions are appropriate in light of the findings of the RAIU report, once we have considered the report in detail."


For reference contact:

Lorna Carney
Alchemy Communications
Tel: 01 6755147/ 087 2872741

Note to Editors

About the Railway Safety Commission

The Railway Safety Commission was established under the Railway Safety Act 2005, as the independent railway safety regulator in the Republic of Ireland. It has responsibility for matters of railway safety on passenger and freight carrying systems. The RSC is responsible for overseeing the safe operation of all railway companies, including Iarnród Éireann, Veolia (Luas Operator), Bord Na Móna where their railway interfaces with public roads and a number of heritage railways. The RSC is also responsible for the approval of new projects undertaken by the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) and Iarnród Éireann.

The RSC is responsible to the Oireachtas for enforcing railway safety legislation through the implementation and supervision of good safety management systems by railway operators and through fostering and encouraging railway safety.

The RSC employs 9 people including the Commissioner, 6 inspectors and two administrative staff.