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An almost $1 billion Queensland rail project has been delayed indefinitely due to a serious signalling flaw that could have caused train crashes.
Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has ordered the Moreton Bay Rail Link, which was to be opened in mid-2016, to be delayed after receiving advice about the signalling issues on Monday morning.
Mr Hinchliffe said he would appoint an independent audit investigation to determine what went wrong, with the person tasked to head the probe to be announced in coming days.
The system's main flaw was that it could meet the capacity of trains at Petrie junction, meaning there was an increased risk of "signals passed at danger".
"This is like running a red light," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"The operation of these signals is critical to safety and I never want to see a rail accident caused because we allowed a signalling system that didn't pass muster to operate."
Mr Hinchliffe said the system also could potentially have caused delays across the rest of south-east Queensland's rail network.
He said it would be up to Queensland Rail to determine the project's new schedule and refused to estimate when the project might open.
Mr Hinchliffe also could not say how much the signalling system cost or how much it would cost to replace.
"I need to be absolutely clear here - safety must come first," he said.
"So if it means asking for someone to investigate the department's delivery of this project and wearing political heat, then so be it.
"Safety is more important than politics."
Redcliffe MP Yvette D'Ath, also the state's attorney-general, questioned whether funding cuts under the former government pushed contractors to find savings and select an inadequate signalling system.
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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