More Glenbrook disasters unless rail maintenance cash doubles: UTS

<p>Australia needs to at least double its expenditure on rail infrastructure maintenance if it is to avoid more disasters like Glenbrook, a University of Technology Sydney academic has said.</p> <p>UTS engineering and timber studies associate professor Keith Crews told the <em>Sunday</em> program on Channel Nine (April 6) that incidents like the discovery of structural weaknesses in the Menangle Bridge on the Sydney Melbourne trunk line could be the tip of the iceberg.</p> <p>"Our research indicates that if we’re to avoid major disasters occurring with infrastructure and to actually manage risks associated with physical infrastructure, then the money that’s currently being expended on maintenance and rehabilitation needs to increase by a factor of at least two to three times within the next 10 years," Professor Crews said.</p> <p>The Rail Infrastructure Corporation and the New South Wales Department Of Transport are at present at the centre of row into why the Menangle Bridge remained open until March 27, when earlier inspections &#8211 since leaked to the media &#8211 recommended immediate closure after warning of potential catastrophic failure as early as March 5.</p> <p>Professor Michael West, an expert engineer from the University of Wollongong, had wanted the bridge closed because of the risk of collapse, but the government was not informed of his recommendation.</p> <p>The Menangle Bridge remains closed, pending further repairs and inspections with no date yet given for a likely re-opening.</p> <p>Pacific National has said the closure is costing its business $2m a week in lost revenue.</p> <p>Its freight is either being re-routed via the Blue Mountains and Illawarra lines or sent by road, adding considerably to costs. </p> <p>The Menangle Bridge is one of eight old wrought iron bridges highlighted in a 1976 report from former State Rail chief Ron Christie. </p> <p>He called for them to be replaced by 1999 at the latest.</p> <br />