NSW, Oops, Rail to Epping has to be relaid
NSW, Oops, Rail to Epping has to be relaid
Linton Besser Transport Reporter
SMH SYD February 27, 2008
MORE than half the State Government's $2.2 billion Epping-to-Chatswood rail line will have to be relaid after engineers discovered a "significant" portion of the track had not been properly fixed down.
Egg-shaped rubber mats, designed to dampen noise in the new rail tunnel and at stations, were found to have separated from the rail and the concrete slab underneath them.
The Herald understands that at least half the track laid inside the 14-kilometre tunnel will have to be lifted by a track-maintenance machine, and a new adhesive applied to the rubber fittings before the track can be safely used.
The tunnel was to open in June; that has already been postponed to the end of the year.
Last night the Government said that the repair would not delay the opening of the line until next year. But the Herald understands that other work is being completed, but is only just within deadlines, and another problem occurring could delay the opening.
The Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation, the government agency responsible for the project, confirmed last night that "minor rectification work is currently under way".
A corporation spokesman, Daniel Bentley, said: "This requires lifting sections of the track and filling the gaps between the rail fixing and the concrete slab. This work will be complete within the next few weeks."
A spokesman for the Minister for Transport, John Watkins, said: "A significant number of [the fixings] will have to be refitted."
When the line opens, it will not run normal train services until March or April next year, when a new CityRail timetable is introduced. Instead, a shuttle service will run every 15 minutes between Epping and Chatswood as part of a standard safety procedure for drivers to become familiar with the new route.
This means the capacity that the new line would have added to the network - including room for another four trains per hour on the western line into the city - will be delayed until well into next year.
The Herald understands the problem for engineers has been that the adhesive used for the job is best suited to flat tracks, and the glue is too weak for the line's steep gradient.
Last year The Daily Telegraph revealed that the gradient ruled out the use of Tangara carriages, so older trains without air-conditioning will be used until new rolling stock is delivered.
The problem with the fixings was discovered late last year. The cost of repairs will be borne by the contractor that laid the tracks, the Thiess Hochtief Joint Venture.
After talking to the State Government, a Thiess spokesman, Ian Collier, declined to comment.
Mr Bentley said unlike most rail tracks in Sydney, which had ballast and sleepers, the Epping-to-Chatswood line had a "concrete slab with technologically advanced track structures to reduce vibration and thus regenerated noise from train operations".
"On parts of the [line] a 'direct fix' track type has been installed using composite steel and rubber acoustic rail fixings bolted directly on the concrete slab which forms the floor of the tunnel."
He said the problem was discovered as part of the quality assurance process. It was being fixed at no extra cost and would have no effect on safety.
Phew, that was close. The name is Daniel Bently, not some other Daniel. I nearly dragged out the soapbox.

But one thing I am wondering about is, why the Tangara's can't get up the grade? Anyone have some facts and figures on this please?
"How long will the next train be? Six cars would be my guess."
I read something about over drawing current on the climb. If I can find it without resorting to search I'll put up a link
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It was a concern about overheating of the traction motors.  Apparently the S/R/K/M sets dont have this problem.  Although M sets are known for finding the weaknesses in the traction control system.  I would hate to see what a M set would do if it could ever run on the Melb system with its far lighter overhead and substations. MMM shut downs and tripping substations galore.
Oh What a Gasser! Rex Mossop.
I know there was a lot of work done on the overhead when we had our 4D (Frankentangara) here, but that was before my time, so I don't know any details. Will chat up some of the older overhead guys next time they are doing a cab ride.
"How long will the next train be? Six cars would be my guess."
My understanding was that the heights would have been raised and a few substations would have been beefed up.
Oh What a Gasser! Rex Mossop.

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