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(AUS)Safety concerns stop XPT train services


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From Sydney Morning Herald:

Safety concerns stop XPT train services



August 9, 2010 - 5:09PM




Safety concerns have forced trains travelling from Sydney to Melbourne off the tracks as the Victorian opposition calls for the auditor-general to step in.


NSW regional transport operator CountryLink has stopped its twice-daily XPT train service between the two capitals, and the line into Southern Cross station from Albury-Wodonga has been shut.


Documents obtained by AAP show the Victorian opposition public transport spokesman, Terry Mulder, has written to Canberra asking for an audit of work done on the line by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.


Regional centres such as Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga, along with smaller towns including Wangaratta, Cootamundra and Yass, will be impacted by the decision.


In recent years about 1800 kilometres of concrete sleepers have been laid to replace ageing timber.


However, sources close to the issue have told AAP those sleepers were laid during drought and a return to normal seasonal rains was not accounted for.


Subsequently the tracks have, in some places, become covered in mud and are now unsafe.


Freight trains were regularly uncoupling across the network, one source said.


It is possible the other half of the line - Albury to Macarthur on the south-western outskirts of Sydney - could also soon be closed by similar safety concerns.


Before locking down the track, speed restrictions on the XPT were brought down from 130km/h to 80km/h.


"These speed restrictions are delaying the twice-daily in each direction XPT passenger trains between Melbourne and Sydney, and freight trains between Melbourne and Sydney or Brisbane by approximately 50 or 60 minutes a trip," Mr Mulder wrote.




Having seen a few pics of the track up there it more resembles rollercoaster track in parts.

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