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The Office of Transport Safety Investigations’ report into the runaway freight train in Unanderra must force state and federal governments to consider the wisdom of placing freight and commuter traffic on the same line.
This incident is not the first time freight rail has caused problems for commuters. Last November rail access was cut between Thirroul and Waterfall after a coal train derailment at Clifton. Thousands of commuters were inconvenienced.
There will always be safety and logistical issues about two services sharing the rail. At present there are 20,000 workers who make the daily journey to and from Sydney. These people deserve a rail service that is safe and reliable. Most of the time it is.
But incidents like this remind us the situation at present is not ideal.
The Government must bite the bullet and build a dedicated freight track. This incident must only add to the case for the Maldon to Dombarton line to go ahead.
Along with freeing up capacity on the commuter line it would also remove the issues rail authorities now have to cope with when freight and commuter interests compete.
There was no-one injured in the Unanderra incident. Next time, we may not be so lucky.
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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