Railway Bridge Scour Inspections

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Railway Bridge Scour Inspections

Project Details

Since 2015 Murphy Geospatial has carried out almost 1000 bridge scour inspections on behalf of Irish Rail. Irish Rail is the national railway operator and is responsible for maintaining the railway infrastructure, including more than 500 bridges over water. Murphy Geospatial has established efficient workflows to undertake comprehensive riverbed level survey helping to identify scour defects, and inspection of submerged structural elements of the bridges to identify any defects of concern. Our detailed reports can be easily interpreted to understand the condition and scour risk of the bridges, assisting Irish Rails asset management operations.


Our Specialist Engineering Services inspection teams are trained in hydrographic survey and identification of scour and structural defects. We also employ a chartered engineer to review all identified defects. Combining these specialist skills and qualifications with our experience delivering over 900 bridge scour inspections means that our team can deliver this project with certainty.



Through our engagement with Irish Rail in the past 5 years we have continually improved the methodology and approach, integrating the latest technologies to capture the most useful information possible.


Irish Rails bridge assets are distributed all around the country. Careful logistical planning is required to deliver each year’s package of bridge inspections on time and within budget. In so far as possible, we carry out the surveys during periods of dry weather and at low tides, where applicable.


A two-man team is used to carry out the bed level survey and inspections to Irish Rail standards. We use wading techniques or boat work with GPS and sonar hydrographic surveying to determine the riverbed levels upstream, underneath and downstream of the structure. In certain circumstances a commercial dive team is used to inspect deeper structures. High-quality photographs are taken of the bridge and all defects identified. 360 degree images are captured upstream and downstream of the bridge to give our client and their consultants a full understanding of the watercourse and its interaction with the bridge structure.


Murphy Geospatial deliver high quality survey drawings, digital data and an inspection report for each bridge inspected. 360 degree images are also provided. Scour condition ratings and structure defect condition ratings are assigned to each identified defect in line with Irish Rails technical standards. Our data is delivered through our survey delivery portal for ease of access and interpretation.


Our inspection reports are used by Irish Rail to plan maintenance of bridges on their network. Our data is also used in hydraulic assessments to categorise the risk level of each bridge on their network. We continue to work with Irish Rail to improve the process as new technologies emerge.


Murphy Geospatial use a number of techniques and technologies to deliver our bridge scour inspections. Hydrographic surveying techniques using total station and GPS are used to determine bed levels in shallow watercourses. Boat work and sonar techniques are used in deeper channels. We have developed a bridge inspection app to record defects in the field and reduce the reliance on paper notes saving time when preparing our inspection reports.


For more information on this project, please contact Paraic Quirke at pquirke@murphygs.ie

  • Client

    Irish Rail

  • Sector/Market


  • Services


  • Location

    Nationwide, Ireland

Services Used

Bridge inspection surveys


" Irish Rail has over 500 bridges that require underwater inspection and riverbed surveys. We are very pleased with Murphy Geospatial's underwater inspections, their riverbed surveys and the quality of their reporting. Keep up the good work! "

Cathal Bowe, Senior Engineer, Irish Rail

Infrastructure - Rail - Murphy Geospatial

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