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Early warning system for hazardous bridge

Fremantle Rail Bridge. Photo: WA PTA

The Public Transport Authority of WA has begun work on an early warning system for trains about to cross the Fremantle Rail Bridge, after a series of dangerous incidents in recent years.

In August 2014, strong currents caused a container ship to break its mooring and crash into the bridge, closing it for 12 days for inspection by structural engineers.

That followed a 2011 incident, in which a refuelling ship crashed into the bridge, damaging the overhead traction wiring system and cutting rail access in and out of the port.

The state has responded with several measures aimed at reducing the danger of shipping incidents around the rail bridge, a number of which are already completed or underway.

One of those measures: state transport minister Dean Nalder announced the implementation of an early warning system had begun on May 25.

“This early warning system will provide an extra level of safety by alerting the PTA, giving them the ability to switch the signals to red and stopping trains from crossing the bridge,” Nalder said.

The project is estimated to be completed in September 2016.

The installation is one of several initiatives under way on and around the bridge, which the state has packaged together.

Also included in the works has been a $4.4 million project to remove and replace more than 1000 rail sleepers on the bridge, which was completed in early 2015.

Main Roads WA, on behalf or the PTA, will be completing pier strengthening works on the bridge. The work is expected to be complete in late-2016.

A $21.1 million contract has been awarded to York Civil and Marine & Civil to construct new concrete and steel bollards downstream from the rail bridge to absorb significant force in the case of impact by a vessel.

And finally, a new LED message board has been installed to improve vessel navigation through the southern channel.

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