Menangle rail bridge structurally sound: ARTC
by LLDCN 11:53AM, 12 Oct 2005
The speed restriction for freight and passenger rail using the Menangle Bridge on the Sydney-Melbourne main line will be lifted to 80 km/h, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) said.
A temporary speed restriction of 40 km/h has been in place for more than two years while the bridge has undergone numerous repairs, inspections and engineering investigations.
The 142-year-old bridge was the centre of significant controversy and freight disruption when it was suddenly closed for four weeks from March, 2003 because of safety concerns, forcing traffic detours.
It reopened in April, 2003 with a 20 km/h speed restriction, which was lifted to 40 km/h in August 2003.
The ARTC decision to lift the speed restriction follows completion of a safety assessment by engineering consultants URS Australia.
The report had confirmed the safe workings of the bridge and recommended lifting the temporary speed restriction – as was also suggested in the Grundy Report of 2003, the ARTC said.
"The Grundy Report in 2003 recommended that the line speed be resumed immediately and that the bridge could remain in service for more than 50 years, without the need to be replaced in 2006," the ARTC said.
The URS report found that no immediate work on the bridge was required and that no further deterioration of the infrastructure has occurred.
The ARTC said it was confident that the recommendations of both reports confirmed the "structural integrity and safety of the Menangle Bridge".
A tailored maintenance plan for bridge has been implemented and the ARTC is planning to spend a further $2m over the next five to "enhance" its safety and reliability.
The lifting of the speed restriction will benefit transit times for freight operators and passenger services, ARTC said.
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