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MANY parts of Victoria’s Murray basin and Tocumwal rail freight network are in poor condition and should be subject to major speed restrictions and even stoppages during hot weather, two independent reviews have found.
Earlier this month V/Line bowed to industry pressure and promised not to halt trains when temperatures exceed 33C this summer.
But a V/Line commissioned review of the Korong Vale to Manangatang track, by Queensland’s Centre for Railway Engineering, has recommended that all trains on the section “would be stopped at 35.9°C, until a corrective action can be undertaken to improve the track condition”.
The review found many parts of the track were still in poor condition, despite V/Line maintenance on the Manangatang and Sea Lake lines, and some sections were in the same condition as last summer.
The Queensland team also found:
A LACK of ballast and a number of ineffective sleepers had added to track instability.
NEW culverts were not consistently built with wing walls or a head wall to retain ballast.
SAND covered the sleepers and anchors, making it impossible to assess the underlying track condition.
RAIL anchors had moved sleepers causing them to be bunched together and skewed.
A separate review of the Mildura and Tocumwal lines by Monash University’s Institute of Railway Technology found the dominant problem was faults in the track gauge.
“Extreme tight gauge are a concern and can cause significant issues, such as increased risk of internal defect development, increased wear,” the Monash team reported.
“However the current speed of 30km/h is considered sufficient to control adverse dynamics (on these sections).”
Farmers and freight operators condemned V/Line’s decision to restrict and halt trains during last summer’s harvest.
But the reports appear to justify V/Line’s decision, given the risk of derailment.
V/Line chief executive James Pinder said a start had been made on the review’s recommendations and more upgrades were on the way so farmers and operators could move more freight by rail.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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