The August 21st 2009 accident was a very narrow escape from a major rail disaster and potential loss of lives in North County Dublin.The central finding of the independent report commissioned by Irish Rail into the viaduct collapse is very troubling because it is critical of a practice that should not be and is not common practice in engineering. The finding says that the staff at Irish Rail did not pass on knowledge of the structure which is one of the oldest viaducts of railways worldwide. This recommendation that staff should pass on this knowledge flies in the face of engineering logic. The perceived wisdom in engineering would be that a bridge book and drawings persist to convey technical information about the structure and not human resources.
The report states that it is difficult to determine the foundations under water, but it is highly unlikely that piers made of stones of this age were piled.
Land development and climate change is cited as potential cause of water flow change. Any development across this water way could have altered the water flow to the weir. Scapegoating retired or departed staff for not passing on information will not prevent this happening again. Adherence to science, records and engineering best practice would be a better focus for future prevention of incidents of this magnitude.
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