Floods wreck havoc on country lines
The wild weather and flooding of last week is still causing chaos in rural NSW.
“The track has reopened after being closed last Sunday at The Rock and Uranquinity just outside Wagga Wagga, but the damage to signals has meant the XPT is still running between one to three hours late,” he said. “We are not sure how long it will take to get the signals fixed as there are not that many people out there to get the job done.”
Freight trains on the main corridor have also been delayed by up to eight hours and the XPT also made a lucky escape when it hit a fallen tree on the line at Avenel near Seymour in Victoria at full speed. Fortunately, the train was able to limp on to Melbourne but was out of service for a week while the wheels were repaired.
Damaged signals have meant a 20km speed restriction at Cootamundra where there was also a mini-land slip.
“It’s been a nightmare for rostering,” said Tony, “but in these situations everyone pulls together to keep the trains moving. A lot of it has to do with good communication between managers and crew.”
Near Griffith, the line is also still washed out for 2km between Narrandera and Grong Grong and will remain closed for about two weeks. Trucks are running freight from Griffith to Marrar and then by train to Junee.
The line closed early last week with the last train just squeezing through about half an hour before the water submerged the tracks.
“The line is just hanging in the air – all the ballast is gone,” said Bruce Wooten, a PN driver from Junee. “They say two weeks to fix it but they may have trouble getting the ballast as the nearest ballast is in Griffith which is still under water in parts from the rain, and the flood water is only just reaching the town now.”
Bruce said there are about 24 crew affected and the emergency rosters mean some people are working more and some less, and the biggest problem they are grappling with is a shortage of train crews.
This particular stretch of track around Narrandera is notorious for being like a basin that fills up quickly with water, although, according to Bruce, the last time it was this bad was in 1974 just before he started driving trains.
Photographs of the XPT in Wagga Wagga from The Daily Telegraph.