The Railway Accident Investigations Unit (RAIU) today released their report into the collision between the train and the An Post van in February of 2013.
Just before 10am on 12 February, an An Post van approached Corraun Level Crossing in Mayo. The level crossing gates were open and the driver proceeded onto the level crossing.
At the same time, the 09:35 hrs Iarnród Éireann (IÉ) Ipassenger service from Ballina to Manulla Junction was travelling through Corraun Level Crossing and struck the van.
On impact, the van was thrown clear of the train and into the adjacent drainage ditch before coming to a stop.
A local resident was working in close proximity but out of sight of the level crossing, heard the accident and made his way to the scene where he rendered assistance to the van driver, who was travelling unaccompanied, the report says.
The driver of the van was seriously injured and conveyed from the scene by ambulance to Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar. He sustained six fractured ribs, a fractured nose and eye socket, a chipped shinbone and an injury to his left leg.
None of the six passengers on board the train or the two members of Iarnród Éireann staff, the driver and mentor driver, were injured as a result of the accident.
A thorough investigation was carried out by the RAIU into the cause of the accident.
Investigators say the level crossing was routinely tied open and closed using string and other objects. On the day of the accident, post-accident examination of the gates found that both gates had been tied open.
The up side gate was tied open with a nylon cord and the down side gate was tied open by the wire of a mobile phone charger.
The report said Iarnród Éireann had failed to ensure the gates were protected against being misused. The crossing being an unattended one the responsibility lies on the driver to open and close it behind him or her.
The reports concludes: "This Level Crossing is a frequently misused level crossing. On the day of the accident, had IÉ fully implemented an RAIU safety recommendation made in 2009 and re-iterated in 2011 requiring IÉ to identify and take proactive actions to manage regularly misused level crossings this accident might not have occurred.
"Given that there have been six similar occurrences to this accident, where misuse was identified as a contributory factor or underlying cause to the accident. As a
result of the continued misuse, the RAIU make the following safety recommendation: IÉ should carry out a full review of known misused user worked level crossings on public and private roads."