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Train commuters in Adelaide's north-west will have to endure more delays, after the State Government announced the Torrens Rail Junction project completion date has been pushed back by six weeks.
The project involves the removal of three level crossings at Park Terrace, Gibson Street and East Street, and the separation of the freight and passenger rail lines.
Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan apologised to commuters while announcing the revised date today, and said the decision to change it was only made yesterday.
The Outer Harbor and Grange lines will now remain closed until January 15, while a further closure to the Gawler line will occur between Adelaide and Mawson Lakes from November 18 until December 5.
"We apologise for the further inconvenience... it is incredibly regrettable," Mr Mullighan said.
"We know that people in the western suburbs have been extremely patient during the course of these works... the people I talk to say they're frustrated with not being able to catch their regular train to work.
"But they do understand the benefit of this project.
"When services come back online in early January we will also look at introducing a period of free service to reward those customers."
Mr Mullighan said the delayed completion date was agreed on following negotiations with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which operates freight trains on the line.
"We only reached an agreement with ARTC as late as yesterday about how we would schedule the remainder of the works about this project," he said.
"They operate 1,500-metre-long trains of freight and cargo which are extremely sensitive to these sorts of projects and operations.
"They need to make sure they have a safe railway system ... [and] they need to make sure they can keep the economy of South Australia... moving by receiving and delivering freight.
"We've had to work very hard to make sure we can keep their trains running."
No guarantees new deadline will be met, Opposition saysShadow transport minister David Pisoni said he found it hard to believe that Mr Mullighan had only been told about the six-week delay a day ago.
Mr Pisoni said it was more likely the delay had been caused by the State Government's own mismanagement of the project.
"DPTI (Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure) operates in a collection of silos ... it has no formal staged approval processes," he said.
"Unfortunately, the people who pay for that are the taxpayers of South Australia and the commuters who use public transport.
"This is the signs of a tired old government that has lost interest in delivering for South Australians.
"I don't know that South Australians can be confident that, on the 15th of January, the Outer Harbor line will be up and running."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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