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Bridge reopening ends interstate freight nightmare

<p>The controversial Menangle bridge has been reopened, ending four weeks of severe disruption to rail freight between Sydney and Melbourne.</p> <p>The Rail Infrastructure Corporation (RIC) and the rail safety regulator told operator Pacific National yesterday (Wednesday, April 23) that the bridge had been recertified.</p> <p>New South Wales transport minister Michael Costa is expected to announce the news at midday today in Sydney.</p> <p>Pacific National said the reopening is "great news", as it would allow trains to run to "almost normal" schedules.</p> <p>A 20 km&#47h speed limit has been imposed and the maximum axle load of 23 tonnes reinstated, the company said.</p> <p>"We welcome the government’s decision to ultimately replace the bridge with a new structure," a Pacific National spokesman said.</p> <p>"We are now looking forward to further government announcements about investment in, and management of, the state’s rail infrastructure."</p> <p>The 140-year-old bridge, which is about 70 km southwest of Sydney on the main south line between Sydney and Melbourne, has been shut since March 27.</p> <p>It was closed following Wollongong University engineering professor Michael West’s inspection report, warning of severe cracking and structural wear and tear.</p> <p>Concerns have since been raised about the apparent three-week delay between completion of the report and the decision to close the bridge. </p> <p>This process is now the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation.</p> <p>Pacific National, which runs an average 40 trains a day across the bridge, has also hinted it may seek compensation for the estimated $2m a week it said it lost in revenue. </p> <br />