Services to Continue Despite Cracks in New Australian Rail Line

18 March 2009 (Last Updated March 18th, 2009 18:30)

Passenger Services will continue on the recently opened A$2.3bn Epping to Chatswood rail line in New South Wales (NSW) despite concern over cracks appearing in the tunnel. A 24m section of the tunnel, which was opened in February this year, is now under surveillance after cracks in the ro

Passenger Services will continue on the recently opened A$2.3bn Epping to Chatswood rail line in New South Wales (NSW) despite concern over cracks appearing in the tunnel.

A 24m section of the tunnel, which was opened in February this year, is now under surveillance after cracks in the roof arches were discovered six to eight weeks ago.

The NSW government, however, has insisted that the tunnel is safe and passenger services will continue while plans are drawn up to repair the tunnel.

NSW Transport Minister, David Campbell said that repair work on the line had already begun, and that this would not disrupt passenger services.

"The Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation (TIDC) has advised that the cracks do not pose any immediate safety risks in relation to either the rectification works or the safe operation of trains," Campbell said."This work will be undertaken at no cost to the government."

The cracks in the roof are not the only setback to befall the troubled rail line, which builders Thiess Hochtief have already admitted is unlikely to last its 100-year government-mandated lifespan.

The line was originally meant to open in 2006 but was delayed till February after noise levels inside test trains were found to be equivalent to that of a Boeing 737 coming in to land.

The long-term reliability of the project was also called into question last year after the Sydney Herald revealed a leaked government report that exposed thousands of flaws in the way the tracks were fixed to concrete slabs.

The 13km line connects the northern suburbs of Sydney running through twin 7.2m-diameter bored tunnels providing services to around 10,000 people every day.

By Daniel Garrun.