Go slow over Hawkesbury Rail Bridge

HawkesburyBridgeABC NSW: Go slow over Hawkesbury Rail Bridge By Mary-Louise Vince (15 September 2015)

Public transport advocacy group, Ecotransit Sydney says rail travel times between Newcastle and Sydney are already too slow without safety concerns along the Hawkesbury River bridge on the New South Wales Central Coast.

The Opposition says documents it has obtained show that repair work was ordered on one of the railway bridge’s concrete piers two years ago.

An underwater inspection report shows large amounts of missing concrete and corroded steel reinforcements.

The Government maintains the bridge is safe but has ordered a review of the structure, which remains the only rail route between Sydney and the northern parts of the state.

Ecotransit Sydney’s co-convenor Gavin Gatenby has described the situation as very disturbing.

“If trains have to slow down to crawl across that bridge for safety reasons it will add several minutes to a journey time between Sydney and Newcastle,” he said.

“Now by international standards, the trip times up along this line are appallingly slow.

“We should’ve been improving that infrastructure years ago in order to bring the journey times down.”

Mr Gatenby said he is not surprised by the poor state of bridge.

“There’s a constant tendency I think to put off rail repairs in particular,” he said.

“In New South Wales they’re done in a particularly lazy way.

“There’s an awful lot of weekend shutdowns which would never occur in any country in Europe.

“Only in England and Australia we have these weekend shutdowns.”

Labor’s Wyong MP David Harris has called on the government to get on with the repairs immediately.

“It’s had two reports now that have told them what needs to be done,” he said.

“They just now need to allocate the money and get it fixed.

“I think it’s unacceptable that a major pylon on a major rail bridge over that significant piece of water is just being left to rot.”