Sydney Trains boss Howard Collins says seven specialist engineering firms have expressed interest in carrying out maintenance on the Hawkesbury River rail bridge.
Transport for NSW responded to Opposition claims earlier this year that the bridge may be unsafe, commissioning engineering inspections which Sydney Trains says prove the bridge is safe for trains to run.
Nonetheless, there is still repair work to be done.
“While the weight-bearing core of the pier is in good condition, there is deteriorated concrete around this core that doesn’t impact the bridge’s safety,” Collins said.
Sydney Trains has gone to market to find an organisation to complete the work, with tenders closing November 20, and seven EoIs received thus far. The maintenance will begin early next year.
“Since September, both Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW have commissioned separate structural engineering experts to carry out independent underwater inspections that confirmed it is safe to run trains,” Collins continued.
“If we had any safety concerns, we would not allow trains to run.
“We do need to carry out maintenance and we’ll soon be in a position to determine which company will undertake the work.”
The Office of Transport Safety Investigations this week updated its statement about the bridge, highlighting that independent inspections support that it is safe to run trains. It also says the national rail regulator has concluded there are no immediate safety issues.
Collins said the maintenance work was due to be carried out in 2014, but the company which tendered for the work requested a change in the scope.
“The change in scope meant we were required to go to tender again,” he said.
“The bridge is entirely safe to operate on and we therefore had time to re-tender and ensure we had the right people to carry out the job.”
The NSW Opposition in September said reports showed vital repairs to Pier 2 on the Hawkesbury River rail bridge were recommended in 2013.
“This is a disaster waiting to happen,” opposition leader Luke Foley said at the time. “The bridge is quite literally crumbling at its foundations while the Baird Government does nothing.”