A leaked Metro Trains Melbourne Track Fault Report shows a disaster in the making.
A report of 7 out of 8 sleepers broken, first reported on 6th April 2015 had still not been repaired as late as the 17th of December 2015, a fault that has the potential to cause a serious derailment.
Chipped railhead, vegetation requiring slashing, trees striking trains; the Fault report is an evidence trail of millions of dollars ripped from the Victorian State Government coffers in ignored maintenance costs.
OUT OF GAUGE
Victorian Broad Gauge is 1600mm. Anything smaller than this will create wear on wheels, especially around curves. Anything greater than this has the potential for derailment.
One section of track around a curve was reported on the 19th of April 2014 as being:
“Gauge fault update – 80% of the curve has wide gauge 1618/20/23mm. concrete sleepers require insulators. Curve has worn rail up to 11mm. 31/3/15 Fault Still outstanding”
There are two methods used to join railway tracks. The first is the jointed method. This is where a gap is left between rails and a ‘fishplate’ is bolted on either side to join the two rails together. The other method is a ‘continuous welded rail’ where the two rails are welded together using thermite.
Jointed track can expand and contract in changing weather, however the problem with it is cracking around the bolt holes, which can lead to breaking of the rail head (the running surface). This was the cause of the Hither Green rail crash which caused British Railways to begin converting much of its track to Continuous Welded Rail.
The following photographs are from the Victorian Railway Network managed by Metro Trains Melbourne.
ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) states that the gap between rails should be no more than 41mm (with a rail temperature of 24 degrees on a 38 degree day with a rail length of 220m). (The maximum gap being 102mm with a rail at 0 degrees)
Should a problem occur with a fishplate, such as the fishplate falling off, the tracks could become misaligned and result in a major derailment.
Investigations into a derailment in London at Potters Bar in May 2002 that claimed the lives of seven people and left scores injured was put firmly down to poor track maintenance. Specifically a fishplate that had come undone. In light of this, a report on the 5th of September 2015 of “Hairline crack thru 6 hole plate behind K crossing requires replacement .” could be considered extremely serious. The question needs to be asked: Why, as of 17th of December 2015, had this not been fixed?
There are many problems with mudholes across the Melbourne Rail Network. Hawksburn Station, Platform 3 pit was recommended on the 29th of April 2015 for spot re-sleepering due to mud holes forming. This was given as a Priority 1 fault, recommending that it should be fixed within 1 week due to the possibility of trains striking the platform as they pass. Should a train strike the platform at a sufficient speed, there could be a chance of derailment. As of 17th December 2015, still not fixed.
The Courier published a story on the 22nd of January 2016: “Chiefs to face inquiry hearing”
“THE chief executives of Victoria’s key public transport bodies have been asked to facea parliamentary inquiry into infrastructure projects.
The leaders of V/Line, Public Transport Victoria and Metro are all expected to meet the request from a parliamentary committee to attend the hearing and respond to questions about the failings of the regional train system.
It is understood the hearing will occur on February 9.”
It looks like Theo has removed himself from further public embarrassment, will Andrew Lezala do the same?
Three Labor MPs, Three Liberal MPs and One Greens MP will make up the committee. The Labor and Liberal Parties have showed over the past thirty years that neither of them care much about the Victorian Railways, perhaps the Greens will do something to keep these corporate vultures to account?