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Harbour Bridge work marks halfway point for Sydney rail repair

rail repair harbour

The Sydney Trains Rail Repair Plan has hit the halfway mark ahead of schedule, with trackwork in progress on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The $97 million program, announced by NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen in June to improve the reliability and resilience of the network, has now seen 80 per cent of the 1900 high-priority defects fixed.

For the 1.4 million people who cross the Harbour Bridge by train every week, the rail line is on track to be more resilient than ever before.

Over the weekend, the trackwork on this line has culminated in the installation of a new back-up airline hose across the bridge for the first time in history, meaning trains can keep running while critical signalling repairs are made.

The rail repair over the harbour comes as train testing on the Sydney Metro City and Southwest line ramps up deep below, as well as trackwork this weekend, to provide a world-class rail service for the city from 2024.

At the six-month mark, the Rail Repair Plan has seen:

  • 1536 of 1,900 high-priority defects removed (yearly average from regular trackwork is 600)
  • 800km of track repairs, including grinding and resurfacing
  • 166 electrical backlog inspections completed (surpassing the initial target of 144)
  • 88 speed restrictions removed (repairing the issues that require trains to slow down, like go- slow signs for roadworks)
  • 489 trainstop rams refurbished (vital fail-safe emergency braking systems)

While the Sydney Trains network is 150 years old in parts and will never be free from incidents, Sydney Trains’ on-time running data has improved, especially over the past three months.

“Keeping Sydney’s most iconic train line in top condition is no easy feat – after all, it is 91 years old and needs a bit of extra care,” Haylen said.

“I was thrilled to visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge to personally see the specialised work underway and thank the dozens of workers calling it their office for the weekend to complete these vital upgrades.

“We are delivering for commuters both above and beneath our Harbour, with both Sydney Trains and Metro work underway to support the people of NSW who travel on our network.

“This milestone of fixing 80 per cent of high-priority defects well ahead of schedule means we can now get even more work done than we anticipated, and that’s a great outcome for passengers.

“There will never be a silver bullet to make the Sydney Trains network perfect, but I’m proud to be delivering state’s largest ever program of rail maintenance with real results.”

Sydney Trains Chief Executive Matt Longland said the Harbour Bridge was a key part of the city’s rail network and by investing in this infrastructure, reliability for the entire network was improved.

“I’m thrilled to say the Harbour Bridge rail line is the most resilient it’s been in history, with a number of first-time works complete, such as a new airline hose and upgraded overhead wiring,” he said.

“Our peak on-time running is improving, so with the exception of some unavoidable incidents, we’re beginning to see a pattern of more resilient and reliable services for passengers.”