Iarnród Éireann has confirmed that the Ennis to Limerick railway line is likely to be out of service until after Easter at the earliest.

The line has been flooded in Ballycar, close to Newmarket on Fergus in Co Clare, for 36 days, making the track impassable.

The line is being examined each day to check if there is any reduction in the floodwaters. It had been dropping by about an inch of water a day until last weekend, but heavy rain over the weekend and early this week means there is now seven inches of water on the track.

The company also confirmed today that the service is suffering because of the ongoing flooding problems. Buses have been replacing the service, and while it is direct between both points, passenger numbers are down about 33%.

Around 600 passengers were using the train service every day. The bus journey takes around 55 minutes, whereas the train journey takes 35.

In addition it is estimated that the hire of buses to replace the train service has cost Iarnród Éireann over €250,000 so far.

Once the floodwaters recede, the tracks and the track walls will have to be checked to ensure its safe to reopen the line. This will also involve sending a light engine along the track to make sure its safe for the service to resume.