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More safety on Vic fast rail project fuels cost blow-out

<p>The Victorian Government has defended a $133m cost blow-out in its a regional fast rail project as a necessary measure in the interest of safety.</p> <p>Despite a valiant attempt to package the increase as a safety investment, the government has come under severe criticism from the state opposition over the admission.</p> <p>Only weeks earlier the government rebuffed opposition accusations that costs on the project were blowing out. </p> <p>The latest increase takes costs on the project from $617m to $750m.</p> <p>A spokeswoman for state transport minister Peter Batchelor said the additional safety investments in train protection warnings systems (TPWS) followed advice from Victoria’s transport safety regulator Graeme Edkins in response to the fatal Waterfall train crash in New South Wales.</p> <p>Mr Edkins was part of a panel that investigated the crash that killed seven people in January 2003.</p> <p>The TWPS was originally designed to be installed on the fast rail trains to apply automatic braking when they passed red signals.</p> <p>"The rail regulator has decided that there have to be extra measures to extend safety," she said.</p> <p>The system will now be extended to provide automatic braking in situations where a train has exceeded the relevant speed limits for a section of track, the spokeswoman said</p> <p>About a third of the extra $133m will be used implement these new safety requirements and the remainder of the money is to be for the resulting delays, such as compensation for the additional line closures, insurance, administration and more work on trackside infrastructure &#8211 particularly signalling, she said.</p> <p>The signalling works should be completed by late next year and the installation of TPWS in train rollingstock will extend into early 2006, the government said.</p> <br />