More than 50 incidents on Irish railways including nine fatalities were examined by inspectors from the Railway Accident Investigation Unit (RAIU) last year.

The latest annual report of the RAIU shows a total of 52 preliminary examinations of serious accidents and other incidents on the rail network were conducted during 2018 – 12 more than the previous year.

A total of nine fatalities were recorded last year as a result of people being struck by trains – the same figure as in 2017 – and included eight deaths due to self-harm. The other fatality was classified as “due to deliberate entry on the railway”.

Another person also suffered serious injuries due to attempted self-harm in an incident at Lansdowne Road station in March 2018.

Collisions involving Luas

A total of 14 collisions were recorded last year including five involving Luas trams – four with road vehicles and one with another tram at the Luas depot in Broombridge.

The RAIU reported that three cars travelled through a red light at a junction at the Belgard Road in Tallaght on August 1, 2018 with the third car colliding with a Luas tram.

A similar collision had occurred at the same location six weeks earlier when another vehicle was struck by a Luas after it passed through a red light.

A male pedestrian also suffered knee injuries after he walked out in front of a tram at Benburb Street without looking last August.

Collisions involving Iarnrod Éireann rolling stock last year included two incidents where a train hit a herd of cattle and two cases of engines running into buffer stops.

In addition there were eight derailments – an increase of three compared to 2017.

All of the derailments last year occurred at train and Luas depots, none of which resulted in any injury.

RAIU chief investigator, David Murton, said the unit had carried out three full investigations during 2018 including one into a collision between a goods train and a council truck at a level crossing near Claremorris, Co Mayo on August 17, 2018.

The train driver was treated for shock, while the truck driver, who was reported as “dazed”, also attended hospital.

A full report on the incident has still to be published.

Reports into the other two incidents – a train hitting a buffer stop at a depot in Laois and a door failure on a commuter service at Ashtown station – have been published with recommendations..

Mr Murton said the RAIU was also in the process of carrying out a “trend investigation” into incidents and accidents involving road-rail vehicles on the Iarnród Éireann network between 2015 and 2018. Five incidents involving such vehicles were recorded last year.

Since its establishment in 2007, the RAIU has issued a total of 147 safety recommendations.

The latest figures show 31 recommendations have not yet been implemented including a series of recommendations from a 2016 report into the issue of signals passed at danger (SPADs).

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