Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Unions Rage As Australian Rail Freight Line Work Ceases

Authorities Accused of Incompetence
Shipping News Feature

SYDNEY – AUSTRALIA - Work on the new rail freight link, a A$300 million dollar federal project to separate the goods line from passenger services has been suspended until further notice, leaving several hundred workers unemployed in the run up to Christmas.

In an astonishing series of blunders it appears that works to re-route essential utilities telephone, gas and electricity supplies had been scheduled to occur at the same time the main construction work commenced. As this procedure needs completion prior to construction it has meant all works have had to stop whilst the project is re-evaluated and a delay of at least several months seems inevitable.

The work was suspended and the site is being mothballed after the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), the federal body responsible for the works, stated that three factors were involved in the suspension. Besides the utilities problem the track route has to be evaluated to ensure it avoids any impact on the local waste site at Glenfield and works are needed to the signalling system, managed by Railcorp, the state body responsible.

The union whose members are those mainly affected by the stoppage accused the authorities of incompetence and said it was the complete lack of cohesion between the two authorities which was entirely responsible for leaving hundreds of families without an income this Christmas. An ARTC spokesman said that the work had been due for completion early in 2010 but that the signalling problems might not be resolved until 2011. They say it is necessary to “recalibrate quantities” resulting in the project being “slowed somewhat”.