V/LINE will be running a track inspection train on the Traralgon-Bairnsdale section of the Gippsland rail line next Tuesday and Wednesday.
V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos said the operation of the Infrastructure Evaluation Vehicle was part of the authority’s maintenance blitz on the line while it was closed to passenger trains because of safety concerns at level crossings.
“We want to let the community know in advance to take particular care at level crossings next Tuesday and Wednesday when this special track inspection train will be passing through,” he said.
Mr Taifalos said level crossing warning equipment would be triggered manually to ensure the safety of road users. The track inspection train will travel at normal line speed but will approach level crossings at 40 kilometres an hour.
“I want to reassure the Gippsland community that V/Line places the utmost urgency and priority on the safe return of trains to Bairnsdale,” he said.
“Our current timeframe will have trains back on the line in September, all going well with the rail grinding in August,” said Mr Taifalos.
The Infrastructure Evaluation Vehicle, EM100, is used by V/Line to check the track geometry and record technical data to be analysed by the infrastructure team.
“The EM100 provides detailed information to pinpoint any sections of the line that require particular attention from our maintenance crews,” said Mr Taifalos.
“Our Gippsland crews are working between Traralgon and Bairnsdale to ensure the line is in the best possible condition for the return of trains.”
So far crew have replaced more than 2000 sleepers and renewed gravel level crossings at four locations. At the same time, V/Line’s bridge crew has been upgrading culverts and bridges to improve drainage along the rail corridor.
Despite regular maintenance on the Traralgon-Bairnsdale section of the Gippsland line, the corrosion of the rail surface on this section was identified as causing irregularities with the operation of level crossing safety equipment.
This type of corrosion affects tracks elsewhere but V/Line’s infrastructure team has observed that it occurs more rapidly on this part of the network. There have been cases in which rail that has been scrubbed at night has corrosion the next morning.
V/Line’s planned interim solution is to grind and re-profile the rail for around 60 kilometres (up to a kilometre on either side of 32 level crossings). The re-profiling process will enhance the wheel-rail interface that is needed for level crossings to detect an approaching train.
The long term solution is the installation of axle counters to trigger the level crossing safety equipment. A program to put this in place has been announced by the State Government.
The installation of the axle counters at the level crossings will take around 12 months.