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The Australian Rail Track Corporation will proceed with maintenance works on the Hunter Valley network this week but has pulled more than 500 workers from the shutdown because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Workers from outside the Hunter will also be excluded from the project as part of the precautions the organisation is taking.
The significantly scaled-back works, running from 6.30am Tuesday until 8.30pm Thursday, will rely on local workers only.
They will operate in smaller groups and at separate locations. The scope has been reduced to essential reliability tasks.
"As coronavirus continues to spread and disrupt people's daily lives, we have implemented a range of preventative measures to ensure the safety of our team and the community, while endeavouring to ensure reliable network operations can be sustained for critical freight movements in coming weeks," ARTC group executive Wayne Johnson said.
The transport sector is deemed an essential service and as such, the ARTC will push on with the works.
It also manages the safe transit of export commodities like coal, grain and other products on the network and has been forced to implement support and isolation measures at its Broadmeadow operations to prevent network control functions from being impacted.
While corporate staff are taking up the opportunity to work from home, network controllers are required on site and generally work in close proximity to each other. Changes have been made to their working conditions.
"It is critical that we continue to meet the need of delivering goods, products and people," Mr Johnson said.
"But we are acutely aware of balancing the demands of running an extensive rail network, with the health and welfare of our people and the communities in which we operate."
This article first appeared on www.newcastleherald.com.au
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