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LAST-minute demands by freight rail line operators are the cause of a six-week delay in reopening of the Outer Harbor and Grange passengers lines.
Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan yesterday pointed the finger at the Australian Rail Track Corporation for the delay.
He said the government had been unable to complete the work within its original time frame because it had been unable to meet freight operator demands.
The works are at Bowden and involve both commuter and freight lines.
They were scheduled to be completed by December 3, but commuters on the Outer Harbor and Grange lines are now confined to buses until January 15. The Gawler train line will close again for two weeks from 9pm on Saturday.
“We have been trying for a period of a couple of months to get a window where we could go in during the current closure period of the Outer Harbor and Grange train lines,’’ he said in parliament yesterday.
“Despite a large number of meetings and workshops and interactions between the alliance team delivering the project and ARTC, we were not successful in satisfying ARTC’s requirements and needs.”
But Opposition transport spokesman David Pisoni said commuters on the Outer Harbor, Grange and Gawler lines were paying the price for government incompetence.
“It is hopeless that the project couldn’t be properly co-ordinated to minimise the period the lines need to be closed,” he told The Advertiser.
Red House Shop & Cafe owner Emily Pescod with the rail line she depends on for business and her War Memorial Drive cafe in the background..Picture: Dylan Coker For story by Miles Kemp
“Stuff-ups like this explain why so many South Australians shun using public transport.”
Mr Mullighan said despite negotiations beginning in January he had only found out about the delay on Monday afternoon.
Access to ARTC land is essential for the Torrens Rail Junction project because it is separating the Melbourne-Adelaide-Perth freight line from the Outer Harbour line and removing the rail crossing near the corner of Park Terrace and Port Road at Bowden.
The ARTC was not available for response yesterday.
But commuters and businesses in the area of the works expressed their concern about the ongoing delays.
Red House Shop and Cafe owner Emily Pescod said the delays were the last straw for an area bounded by South Road and the Parklands at Bowden, which had disrupted businesses struggling to survive.
Ms Pescod operates a business from the North Adelaide railway station but said people were avoiding the entire area because of the Bowden redevelopment, the Torrens Rail Junction project and the 4km Torrens to Torrens upgrade of South Rd.
“Our rail line (Gawler) is closed again for two weeks but if that closed for another six weeks we would be devastated,’’ she said. “Customers are already finding it very hard to get around here.’’
Commuters using substitute buses on the Outer Harbor line yesterday said they much preferred the train service.
“It is habit for me the train doesn’t stop and start for every bend in the road and traffic light,’’ said Anne Henderson after finishing her journey on North Terrace.
But Mark Zervos said: “They have done the right thing by making it free but I can’t handle an extra six weeks of it. At least I’ll be on holiday for about three of them’’.
This article first appeared on www.adelaidenow.com.au
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