Zig Zag Railway postpones reopening

IT appeared everything was on track for a July reopening of the Zig Zag Railway but floods and thieves have intervened and led to a postponement of that plan.

Zig Zag's general manager Michael Forbes said the tourist railway now hopes to get restarted in October.

It has been trying to work through flood damage that Mr Forbes said was running towards a cost of $300,000.

Flash flooding from heavy downpours at the end of February and in March caused major damage throughout the Zig Zag reserve including a landslip near the Clarence Tunnel.  

The large volume of water from the downpours was unable to drain away and subsequently saturated the embankments. 

The landslip on the big embankment 250 metres west of Clarence Tunnel, a major wash-away on Middle Road adjacent to the Bottom Points Home Signal and significant scouring on Bottom Road opposite the water column are where the most substantial damage occurred. 

Drains were unable to carry the amount of water and were filled with washed-in silt and debris that needed to be cleaned up. 

To Zig Zag's small but dedicated group of volunteers it was a big blow with more hard work to clear away the mess after what they have already done to get the tourist railway going again.

Mr Forbes said the Zig Zag has applied for natural disaster relief funding but it could take months to come through and the heavy earthmoving machinery to arrive.

All the work done also has to pass the regulator's checks.

Mr Forbes said it has been a long and involved process dealing with the flooding.

Bad weather is not the only problem though for the tourist railway, Mr Forbes said.

“We have been battling people who are stealing from us and who have been defacing historic infrastructure.”

Three or four times Mr Forbes said they have gone to the police and made reports about theft and damage.

Despite these setbacks Zig Zag's efforts to get accreditation back for carrying passengers, after being ordered to stop by the NSW Transport Department’s Independent Transport Authority, is going well.

Mr Forbes said they have monthly meetings with Australasian Transport Risk Solutions, the independent safety adviser engaged to assist the Zig Zag Railway.

“We don't have a problem with them and it seems they don't have a problem with us.”

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