The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has stopped working on the Southern Sydney Freight Line whilst it sorts out several planning deficiencies and cost overruns, potentially delaying the completion of the line by two years.
The ARTC has admitted to three key design flaws that mean the project must be halted and no work will proceed until they are sorted out. These are:
- Firstly, signal design and modifications to the RailCorp ATRICS signalling system may not be made until November 2010 or early 2011.
- Secondly, the ARTC has to redesign part of the route to minimise impact on the Glenfield Garbage Tip. “Changes to the garbage tip area have necessitated this redesign so as to minimise the impact on the tip area and reduce the exposure of the line to future environmental issues in the tip area.”
- Thirdly, services such as telephone and electricity lines have not been relocated along the planned line prior to commencing construction, and must now be relocated before construction can proceed.
The ARTC also gave a hint of funding problems with the line, saying: “Given these adjustments to the timing of the line opening the opportunity is being taken to evaluate the most cost effective method of delivery of these adjustments and the overall project.
“Each of these adjustments has a potential material impact upon the cost of delivery of the project and therefore the present programme of construction is being slowed somewhat, to evaluate the most effective options in moving forward,” the ARTC’s media release said.
According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, the construction halt will potentially put hundreds of workers out of a job: “… contractors have now been told to tidy up worksites on the rail corridor, remove trip hazards, put up safety fencing, and go home indefinitely.
“A letter from the corporation to the companies affected shows construction and earthworks will be suspended for at least five months in order to remove services such as telephone, gas and electricity cables along the proposed route, or to redesign key sections.
“The CFMEU assistant state secretary, Brian Parker, said up to 800 jobs were at risk because of bureaucratic incompetence by the corporation and NSW’s RailCorp,” the report said.
At the time of going to press the ARTC has not returned T&Lnews’ call.