V/LINE is developing both short and long term solutions to the unique rail corrosion issue that has forced the suspension of train services between Traralgon and Bairnsdale for safety reasons.
The local conditions have been causing rapid oxidisation of the rail surface, which can affect the reliability of level crossing warning equipment.
V/Line acting chief executive Ross Pedley said the organisation was working with the State Government to return trains to Sale and Bairnsdale as soon as possible.
“In recent days, our service to Bairnsdale customers has been boosted with the addition of an express coach to Southern Cross Station, Melbourne,” he said.
“This supplements the train replacement coach service that we are operating between Traralgon and Bairnsdale.”
The short term engineering solution is to grind the surface of the rail about 500 metres on each side of the 32 level crossings between Traralgon and Sale. This equates to more than 60 kilometres of track.
“Rail grinding equipment is not currently available in Victoria, so V/Line has sourced a heavy duty rail grinding machine from Western Australia. Once in place in Gippsland, this machine is capable of completing the rail grinding process in approximately 21 days,” Mr Pedley said.
“Because the grinding machine has been newly manufactured, it has to be commissioned first in Western Australia. Before it can be used on the Gippsland line, the grinding machine needs to be modified to fit our broad gauge track.
“The brakes for the broad gauge bogies are coming from overseas, so it is not yet possible to confirm a timeline for the start of the works.”
On completion of the rail grinding, test trains will run to ensure that the track circuits are operating the level crossing equipment to provide the required 25 seconds warning to road users.
“V/Line engineers are also working to design a long term solution which involves the installation of axle counters to detect trains and activate the level crossing warning equipment. This technology is already used on the Bendigo line,” Mr Pedley said.