Still no return to full light rail service and no explanations

 

News article: Still no return to full light rail service and no explanations

Part of Sydney's light rail line will remain out of action until early next month amid growing frustration with the failure of the operator and government to explain the lengthy suspension of services.

  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
Part of Sydney's light rail line will remain out of action until early next month amid growing frustration with the failure of the operator and government to explain the lengthy suspension of services.



The light rail line between Lilyfield and Central, used for almost 100,000 trips a week, has been completely or partly suspended for almost three weeks after two trams derailed within 20 minutes on October 7.
Still no return to full light rail service and no explanations


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Somehow, I doubt this sort of closure used to happen after derailments on the real Sydney tram network (you know - the one we're supposed to forget even existed) many moons ago. Fix the bloody track!

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  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Fix the bloody track!
"MILW"
That is exactly what they are doing. Rolling Eyes

I am informed by a reasonably reliable source that during routine engineering works a certain check rail was mis-aligned at completion. This resulted in all the trams having their wheels struck repeatedly, until two trams had wheel failures - and thus derailments - on the same night.

It appears that the trams have been fixed, but the tracks have not been completely repaired. However, until and unless the line has been repaired to a standard that both the operator and the government are satisfied is safe for passengers to be conveyed, the shutdown should continue.

Safety is paramount here. Until and unless it is cleared as safe it must remain closed. I don't care how much people want their Variotrams back - safety should be the number one priority here.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
That is exactly what they are doing. Rolling Eyes

I am informed by a reasonably reliable source that during routine engineering works a certain check rail was mis-aligned at completion. This resulted in all the trams having their wheels struck repeatedly, until two trams had wheel failures - and thus derailments - on the same night.

It appears that the trams have been fixed, but the tracks have not been completely repaired. However, until and unless the line has been repaired to a standard that both the operator and the government are satisfied is safe for passengers to be conveyed, the shutdown should continue.

Safety is paramount here. Until and unless it is cleared as safe it must remain closed. I don't care how much people want their Variotrams back - safety should be the number one priority here.
Watson374

Really? I never would have guessed... Rolling Eyes

I don't think anyone is seriously questioning safety as the number one priority, except maybe the people who misaligned the checkrail that you mentioned.

The time it is taking to fix is what appears to be causing concern, and rightly so given that it is nearly a month already.

Next time we have a derailment on the Sydney Trains network, let's shut the whole thing down for a month and see how we go. Can't rush these things, after all.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Really? I never would have guessed... Rolling Eyes

I don't think anyone is seriously questioning safety as the number one priority, except maybe the people who misaligned the checkrail that you mentioned.

The time it is taking to fix is what appears to be causing concern, and rightly so given that it is nearly a month already.

Next time we have a derailment on the Sydney Trains network, let's shut the whole thing down for a month and see how we go. Can't rush these things, after all.
"MILW"
Oh god. Rolling Eyes

You clearly don't appreciate the man-hours of orange safety vests required for this, nor the new standards implemented which specify minimum (non-)work periods and minimum consumption of paper for (over-)documentation.

It's the first time it's happened to this extent, and in any case the section from Star City to Lilyfield is already back online. The only downside to this is the poor replacement service after Transdev wrested it back from State Transit.
  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
Oh god. Rolling Eyes

You clearly don't appreciate the man-hours of orange safety vests required for this, nor the new standards implemented which specify minimum (non-)work periods and minimum consumption of paper for (over-)documentation.

It's the first time it's happened to this extent, and in any case the section from Star City to Lilyfield is already back online. The only downside to this is the poor replacement service after Transdev wrested it back from State Transit.
Watson374

Oh, I appreciate NSW bureaucratic nonsense well enough, thank you, but I also appreciate the net result, which is nearly a month worth of closures.

I wouldn't consider it exceedingly cynical to ask questions like the following:

  • Since we're supposedly "so serious" about safety standards, documentation and compliance in NSW, how about getting the construction and maintenance right so these incidents don't happen in the first place? It's 2013 - we shouldn't be having to learn the fundamentals of building permanent way in a manner that does not damage trains, eventually causing them to fall off it.

  • Or are the safety standards more about appearance and creating jobs for the boys to tick and flick (as is known to be the case elsewhere) than a genuine concern for safety?

  • What about track inspections? It didn't take long for the offending track to be identified, but shouldn't that have happened before it caused two derailments?

  • Was the problem already known before the derailments occurred?

  • An intense regulatory framework like what we supposedly have in NSW doesn't count for much if it fails to prevent incidents like this from happening - incidents which under the right circumstances could prove lethal. Presumably, this framework was applied when the defective track was last worked on. Or was it?


I sleep soundly knowing that all of this stuff and more will be thoroughly examined, and that all will be revealed in the utterly transparent report, something for which NSW is (in)famous... Confused Oh, and that it won't happen again.

If it was treated as an important service it would probably be open again, but I guess it isn't... I won't argue that it is vital to the economy. Maybe that is another big factor - it's just not important enough to get priority.

I also wonder how this is really affecting Transdev's business.

Even if it turns out that the length of the line closure was somehow reasonable, it still looks like there is room for criticism here at some level. The derailments should not have happened, after all. I hope the report is better than some of the trash OTSI has put out in the past.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Really? I never would have guessed... Rolling Eyes

I don't think anyone is seriously questioning safety as the number one priority, except maybe the people who misaligned the checkrail that you mentioned.

The time it is taking to fix is what appears to be causing concern, and rightly so given that it is nearly a month already.

Next time we have a derailment on the Sydney Trains network, let's shut the whole thing down for a month and see how we go. Can't rush these things, after all.
MILW
Umm point of order
- Sydney Trains is a huge network of at least 1500km of track. Its extremely unlikely the whole thing would ever need to be shutdown due to a single safety incident. Shutting the network down will have a huge impact on Sydney.

- Sydney trams is a one short line! Two trams with broken wheels, rest need inspection and the track needs fixing. The line is short enough that buses can be used and not impact too much on users or local traffic.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Umm point of order
- Sydney Trains is a huge network of at least 1500km of track. Its extremely unlikely the whole thing would ever need to be shutdown due to a single safety incident. Shutting the network down will have a huge impact on Sydney.

- Sydney trams is a one short line! Two trams with broken wheels, rest need inspection and the track needs fixing. The line is short enough that buses can be used and not impact too much on users or local traffic.
"RTT_Rules"
True, and the bus service was adequate (at least until Transdev screamed for the contract to be returned to it, only to run a far worse service than State Transit).

  MILW Junior Train Controller

Location: Earth
Umm point of order
- Sydney Trains is a huge network of at least 1500km of track. Its extremely unlikely the whole thing would ever need to be shutdown due to a single safety incident. Shutting the network down will have a huge impact on Sydney.
RTT_Rules
LOL sorry, note to anyone who read that: don't take it too seriously, it was basically a joke. Still, I appreciate that it was actually read.


The line is short enough that buses can be used and not impact too much on users or local traffic.
RTT_Rules
True, and the bus service was adequate (at least until Transdev screamed for the contract to be returned to it, only to run a far worse service than State Transit).
Watson374
Let's keep that one quiet, otherwise the trams will be replaced by buses and private motor cars permanently, just like they were many decades ago.
  HeadShunt Chief Train Controller

Its extremely unlikely the whole thing would ever need to be shutdown due to a single safety incident. Shutting the network down will have a huge impact on Sydney.
RTT_Rules

It's not an actual shutdown, but maybe the closest we have experienced to that is signal box evacuations. They are usually false alarms but still bring large parts of the network to a stand for up to half an hour or so. Even areas not directly affected can be thrown into chaos for hours after the signallers have returned to work.

A real fire that caused serious damage in a major signal box would be catastrophic. Trains could still run, but nowhere near normally. There are a few options to manage such scenarios. The presence of high tech safety gear like ATP, ATO, etc. could make it even worse.

As the area controlled by major signal boxes gets larger, so does the area affected by their evacuation. It's not hard to imagine half the metropolitan network or more being temporarily shut down by a single evacuation incident in the future. By contrast, the death of a small intermediate box could probably be handled with relative ease. Ah, the smell of progress!
  smithagain Junior Train Controller

It's not an actual shutdown, but maybe the closest we have experienced to that is signal box evacuations. They are usually false alarms but still bring large parts of the network to a stand for up to half an hour or so. Even areas not directly affected can be thrown into chaos for hours after the signallers have returned to work.

A real fire that caused serious damage in a major signal box would be catastrophic. Trains could still run, but nowhere near normally. There are a few options to manage such scenarios. The presence of high tech safety gear like ATP, ATO, etc. could make it even worse.

As the area controlled by major signal boxes gets larger, so does the area affected by their evacuation. It's not hard to imagine half the metropolitan network or more being temporarily shut down by a single evacuation incident in the future. By contrast, the death of a small intermediate box could probably be handled with relative ease. Ah, the smell of progress!
HeadShunt
Just like what happened today. A fire safety alarm activated at Sydney signal box today around midday. Thank the gods it wasn't during peak.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
As the area controlled by major signal boxes gets larger, so does the area affected by their evacuation. It's not hard to imagine half the metropolitan network or more being temporarily shut down by a single evacuation incident in the future. By contrast, the death of a small intermediate box could probably be handled with relative ease. Ah, the smell of progress!
HeadShunt
Indeed. It should - we hope - make some at Lee Street question the wisdom of eliminating intermediate boxes and panels in favour of centralised locations. But then, it probably won't - until the next major signalling failure.

Getting back on-topic, I think everybody here would agree that this whole matter has taken an inordinately long time to resolve. Surely a misaligned checkrail shouldn't have taken this long to be rectified. Or could it be, as MILW suggested, an indication of how far down the list of priorities the line is? If that is the case, it does not bode well for future extensions.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
It's not ideal, but it's the first time it's happened to the light rail, which seems to be subject to different management practices from Sydney Trains.

I don't expect this to happen too often, but I'm confident in the emergency replacement buses being easily summoned, so I'm not too worried from the service point of view.

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