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V/LINE has succumbed to industry pressure and begun an independent review of the unprecedented heat restrictions applied to its rail network last summer.
V/Line chief executive James Pinder said he would commission a review of the restrictions after a letter to the Premier from the Rail Freight Alliance, signed by 22 mayors, said Victorian freight was at a standstill because of the restrictions that stopped trains when temperatures reach 33 degrees.
Freight: Under review.“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 told a parliamentary hearing.
V/Line is understood to be finalising review arrangements with Central Queensland University and Monash Institute of Railway Technology.
Mr Pinder told the inquiry he did not believe a single train had been cancelled “but there were lots of trains that were rescheduled”.
“We regret the delays that we caused, but actually we think from a safety perspective and the fact that we moved over a million tonnes of this stuff during the grain season that we didn’t do too bad,” Mr Pinder said.
But Victorian Opposition spokesman David Hodgett said the restrictions came at great expense and had pushed more trucks on to roads.
“Mr Pinder said that there would ‘always’ be heat speed restrictions but did not explain why John Holland in NSW with kilometres of timber sleepered track on its country freight rail network, or Genesee and Wyoming through the hot Red Centre to Darwin do not impose such draconian freight train bans,” Mr Hodgett said.
“In the higher harvest years of the 1970s, more grain was moved by rail by the then Victorian Railways than V/Line has facilitated to move today.”
The Rail Freight Alliance said it looked forward to working with V/Line and industry to establish terms of reference.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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