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V/LINE is refusing to reveal what temperature will trigger heat restrictions for freight trains this summer.
In April V/Line chief executive James Pinder said he would commission a review of last summer’s restrictions, which stop trains when temperatures reach 33C.
Industry and local government criticised the restrictions for bringing freight to a halt during a record grain harvest.
“To satisfy ourselves, as much as anything else, that this considered approach was the right thing to do, we’ve (initiated) Monash University to carry out an entirely independent assessment of our engineering activities and our operational activities ... we look forward to sharing the outcome of that in due course,” Mr Pinder said at the time.
But this week V/Line could not say what stage the review was at, or what operating restrictions were expected over the coming summer.
A spokeswoman for V/Line said it would reveal any restrictions, “when it was ready”.
With another large grain harvest forecast expected to start in about a month, freight operators have told The Weekly Times they and traders needed to know what conditions they would be operating in.
“Industry is keen to know what the plans are for summer,” Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president Brett Hosking said.
Rail Freight Alliance spokesman Reid Mather said Victoria could not deal with another situation like last year.
“While safety is always paramount, our concern has always been that the heat restrictions were extremely risk adverse compared to neighbouring states with higher heats and similar infrastructure,” Mr Mather said.
“This is why we called for the peer review, and the results need to be addressed early so Victoria farmers do not find themselves in the same situation as last year ... we are dealing with peoples livelihoods here and the matter needs to be addressed now.”
Meanwhile, work to standardise the Ouyen to Murrayville line has begun as part of the Murray Basin Rail Upgrades.
She said the project would create more than 400 jobs at its peak, with at least 15 per cent of workers recruited from the local region.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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