Fears abound that around 70 rail bridges throughout Queensland’s central west could be unsafe following claims safety inspections have not been carried out.
Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson says some rail services in the region have been suspended amid fears that safety inspections after recent floods were checked off but never actually carried out.
“There are more than 70 wooden bridges in the region that need to be reinspected because of concerns that underwater inspections were signed off up to 18 months ago without actually being carried out,” Emerson said in a statement on Friday. “A number of the bridges have pylons that are permanently immersed in water and this will be a significant program of work that could take up to a month.”
The concerns relate to more than 70 bridges and the suspensions apply to lines operated by Queensland Rail, including Emerald to Winton, via Longreach, the Clermont branch line and the Springsure branch line.
The line between Clermont and Capella, north of Emerald, was closed Wednesday because of the condition of two rail bridges at Capella Creek.
Experienced inspection teams from Charleville, Miles and Warwick have been brought in to help local crews with the work. Emerson says the lines will remain closed until the regulator’s safety concerns are addressed.
While acknowledging the inevitable disruption to freight services, Emerson says the suspensions are necessary for safety reasons.
“Unfortunately there will be a disruption to cattle and general freight services, along with the Spirit of the Outback passenger services, but this is a necessary step to ensure the safety of passengers and staff,” Emerson says.