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Railway_Digest__February_2018

TM News TasRail to keep

TM News TasRail to keep freight focus with no involvement in light-rail debate The future of Tasmanian rail operator TasRail came under scrutiny on the first day of a Tasmanian Government Business Enterprise Committee hearing in the Tasmanian Parliament on Wednesday 6 December. On former TasRail chairman Robert Annells’ last day before retirement, members of the House of Assembly asked questions about the future direction of the company. Also on hand were TasRail chief executive Damien White and Minister for Infrastructure the Hon. Rene Hidding. The hearing came in the wake of the November 2017 release of the state Auditor-General’s Report on the Financial Statements of State entities that found TasRail relied heavily on government funding to support its below-rail activities. TasRail recorded a loss of $6.78 million in the 2016-17 financial year. However, in his opening remarks, Mr Hidding said 2016-17 had been a “successful” year for TasRail, due to its infrastructure upgrades, the growth achieved in its commercial above-rail division and its response to the 2016 floods. “I am delighted to report that TasRail’s above-rail division is on track to achieve its first profit since TasRail’s inception in December 2009,” he enthused. “I want to see rail contestable against road”. Minister Hidding said he had no doubt that, as part of TasRail’s commitment to delivering optimal and innovative logistic solutions to its customers, to haul freight in a safe, reliable and competitive manner; the company is poised for future great success”. Mr Annells said TasRail would continue to focus on its role as a short-haul freight carrier, contestable against roads. It was for this reason that Mr Hidding said TasRail had not been involved in discussions about potential light-rail passenger services for the Hobart area. Opposition infrastructure spokesman Shane Broad pondered whether or not there was any merit to separating the below- and above-rail divisions of TasRail’s operations. Mr Annells responded saying this would only serve to remove the below-rail division’s imperative to address speed restrictions for the above-rail division’s benefit. Greens leader Cassy O’Connor asked if TasRail had any plans to expand the state’s rail network “further than it is now”. “TasRail is very clear on this matter: it would prefer no expansion at all,” Mr Hidding replied. “It’s a known quantity now – they service known markets”. Government committee told Hobart rail line removal not a conspiracy The removal of several hundred metres of disused rail lines near the Hobart Regatta Grounds was “a stuff-up”; a parliamentary hearing has been told. TasRail chairman Bob Annells told a Tasmanian Government Business Enterprise committee hearing on Wednesday 6 December that the rail had been removed without the knowledge of TasRail or Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure the Hon. Rene Hidding. He described the removal as “a slight incursion” and “a stuff-up” and said the line had been in poor condition. Mr Annells said that he believed the line had been removed by a contractor working for Macquarie Point Development Corporation (MPDC). “If you’re trying to make a decision between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, take the stuff-up every time”, he said. “I think, in fairness to them, I suspect it was a breakdown in communications between them (MPDC) and their contractor,” he said. “We didn’t know about it, [the minister] certainly didn’t know about it. When it was drawn to our attention, we sorted it out quite quickly”. Mr Hidding told the hearing there had been no repercussions for the Tasmania Tasrail calls for an end to reckless behaviour in the rail corridor TasRail is disappointed by the disheartening approach to rail safety demonstrated by some members of the Tasmanian community, with unacceptable numbers of people illegally accessing the railway corridor, vandalising critical rail equipment and ignoring level crossing signals. New statistics compiled from TasRail’s internal safety reporting system Risk Wizard reveal a startling 109% increase in the number of rail corridor trespass incidents around Tasmania from 1 July to 18 December 2017. There were 23 reports of people illegally entering the corridor, compared to 11 during the same period in 2016. There has also been a 41% increase in the number of vehicles failing to stop or give way at level crossings and a 56% surge in vandalism and theft incidents. TasRail Acting CEO Stephen Kerrison said this reckless behaviour was unacceptable. “In recent years we had recorded an improvement in community-related safety incidents so we are incredibly disappointed that motorists and pedestrians are taking unnecessary and dangerous risks,” Mr Kerrison said. “CCTV footage from our locomotives shows motorists stopping at level crossings with activated signals, seeing the approaching train and then proceeding through the crossing. We also have footage of mothers pushing prams along railway bridges and children deliberately placing themselves in the path of oncoming trains”. TasRail continues to work proactively with Tasmania Police to analyse CCTV footage of reported incidents and forward all relevant information, such as vehicle make, colour and number plate, in the hope these offenders will be prosecuted. Tasmania Police reiterated the importance of staying safe around the rail corridor. company which removed the rail line. Replacing the line would cost “a few thousand dollars” and could be done in a day. Mr Hidding said the rail corridor had been maintained for potential future use and he was keen to advance plans for a light rail through the area. “I have the same aspirations on light rail ... I would like to see it come through Macquarie Point and continue,” he told the committee. The rail freight line to Hobart was closed on 22 June 2014. Subsequently rail services relocated to the purpose-built Brighton Transport Hub, located near Bridgewater, approximately 25 kilometres north of the former Hobart terminus. According to reports in the Hobart Mercury the rail line in question had been removed around October 2017. At that time Mr Hidding said that claim that the freight rail line to Macquarie Point had been removed were “false”. “Some disused spur lines and shunting lines within the Macquarie Point boundaries that are secondary to the main line have been removed”, he said. “These were lines used for heavy freight operations, which are now redundant”. Subscribe to Rolling stock: Swietelsky CPB Rail MFC-45 Ballast Spoil Wagons and you’ll never miss an issue of Australia’s leading railway magazine. Go to www.railwaydigest.com.au to subscribe online, or fill in and post the application form on page 59. For a digital subscription, go to www.pocketmags.com Published monthly by the Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW Division) March 2017 • $10.00 Sticks and tricks South of the border The AK Cars go north-west SCT commences Melbourne–Brisbane services 20 RAILWAY DIGEST

Victoria Contracts signed for Ballarat line upgrade Contracts were signed in late December by a consortium comprised of Lendlease, Coleman Rail and SMEC Australia, to deliver the $551.8 million Ballarat Line Upgrade project. Wendouree commuters are among the big winners from additional works, which include a second platform and new tracks for the station. The additional tracks will create space for trains to pass at Wendouree station for the first time, removing the current problem that sees delayed services from Melbourne terminate at Ballarat and passengers forced onto replacement buses because trains cannot cross beyond Ballarat. The upgraded Wendouree station will also include a new accessible pedestrian link between the new and existing platform, and upgrades to security, lighting and signage. The Wendouree station work is expected to be completed by 2019. An extra three kilometres of track between Bacchus Marsh station and Rowsley Station Road in Maddingley has also been added to the Ballarat Line Upgrade project, allowing trains to move in and out of the nearby stabling facilities more quickly. This refinement removes the need to duplicate track at Warrenheip and means less tree removal and excavation. The change also includes a new station at Toolern, between Rockbank and Melton, to service Melbourne’s booming outer-western suburbs. The upgrade is part of the $1.57 billion Regional Rail Revival, funded by the Australian and Victorian governments. The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority, currently overseeing the Metro Tunnel and Ballarat Line Upgrade, will lead delivery of the Regional Rail Revival program, which includes upgrades to every regional passenger line in Victoria. Construction contractors and suppliers have been invited to register their interest in working on the Regional Rail Revival projects by visiting ballaratlineupgrade.vic.gov.au. News Bendigo and Eaglehawk station upgrade update The $15.8 million upgrade of Bendigo and Eaglehawk stations is one step closer with the request for tenders released on Wednesday 20 December. (Bendigo station is located approximately 162 kilometres from Southern Cross station on the Bendigo line. Eaglehawk station is located eight kilometres from Bendigo on the Swan Hill line.) The centrepiece of the project is a new pedestrian overpass at Bendigo Station, with new lifts, ramp and stair access making it easier for commuters to transfer between platforms and connect with other forms of transport. The design of the bridge reflects Bendigo’s heritage and will not impact on the land used by the adjacent Bendigo Victorian Railways Institute Bowling Club. Further refinements to the design will be made as part of the design and construction phase, in consultation with the City of Greater Bendigo and key stakeholders. Further upgrades at Bendigo Station will see improvements to the waiting area, toilets and customer service areas to make it easier for people to move through the station. The Victorian government is also planning for more growth in Eaglehawk by extending the platform by 100 metres to accommodate longer trains and building a new 60-space car park with taxi and drop off areas. Preliminary designs have considered the unique heritage of the area and are the product of extensive community consultation, with around 80 local residents, businesses and commuters attending community feedback sessions in Bendigo and Eaglehawk in October this year (see September 2017 RD, page 21). . Works will be completed in 2019 and are in line with the City of Greater Bendigo integrated transport and land use strategy Connecting Greater Bendigo, the Bendigo Station Improvement Plan and the Eaglehawk Station Precinct Master Plan. As part of ongoing maintenance of infrastructure on the North East line, Kilmore East Station is receiving a new roof. V/Line Clyde/EMD locomotive N458 arrives, on time, with a Southern Cross Service (07.34 ex Seymour) at 07.58 on Tuesday 12 December 2017. Steve Munro FEBRUARY 2018 21

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