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Works paused on SA rail infrastructure projects

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During South Australia’s six-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown, work on rail infrastructure projects will come to a halt.

The South Australian government imposed the lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19, after a cluster of cases in North Adelaide, and the lockdown came into force on November 19.

“The State Government has announced a six-day pause on construction and community activities, in line with COVID directions,” said a Department for Infrastructure and Transport spokesperson.

“During this time, non-essential project work will be paused, including rail projects.”

Rail infrastructure projects underway in South Australia include the Flinders Link extension of the Tonsley Line, which was in the final stages before opening in December. Services on the line will be suspended from November 20 to allow for testing and driver training before the opening on December 26.

Work on the Gawler Rail Electrification Project is also in critical stages, ahead of its completion in 2021.

“The Department is expecting some impact to work programs as a result of the ‘circuit breaker’ and will work with our contractors to mitigate these wherever possible,” said the spokesperson.

Train and tram services will continue running on the Adelaide network. Cleaning schedules have been increased and passengers are encouraged to follow hygiene recommendations such as washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding public transport if unwell. Masks are encouraged, but not mandatory.

Freight operations in South Australia are able to continue, as they are classified as essential.

The approach of shutting the construction industry is in contrast to the approach taken under Melbourne’s lockdown, where construction activities could continue, provided that social distancing was adhered to and masks were worn.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMEU) said that while the lockdown was understood, the industry has been able to operate in a COVID-safe way, and the lockdown should not extend beyond the six-day period.

“The Marshall Government needs to work with the industry to find ways to keep construction going, as it has done safely and successfully around the country throughout 2020,” said CFMEU SA secretary Andrew Sutherland.

“Even at the height of the pandemic crisis with hundreds of cases being reported daily, the construction industry in Victoria did not shut down completely.”