NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian appears to be foreshadowing ‘mission impossible’ before her department even begins involvement to get Lithgow’s world renowned Zig Zag Railway back on track.
The minister reiterated yesterday that her department would be offering ‘expert assistance’.
But in an ominous, and perhaps defeatist note, she also said ‘it may be that the problems with Zig Zag are insurmountable’.
Ms Berejiklian said on June 6 she had instructed Transport For NSW to meet with the Zig Zag organisation to see how it can meet the necessary safety obligations in the longer term.
She said the offer of expert assistance was in response to the Independent Safety Transport Regulator’s ‘show cause’ letter to Zig Zag that had proposed a total cessation of passenger services from 5pm Sunday.
“Given the requirements of ITSR, Transport For NSW has advised me that the Zig Zag Railway had not been in a position to address all the safety issues by Sunday’s deadline.
“Therefore it has ceased passenger operations until further notice,” Ms Berejiklian said.
She said that Transport For NSW has organised an independent expert to help Zig Zag Railway assess their safety management system and provide advice.
This assessment was expected to take at least a month to complete.
“Transport For NSW will continue to work with the Zig Zag to satisfy the safety regulator but it may be that the problems with Zig Zag are insurmountable,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Safety needs to be the number one priority for all forms of transport including privately operated trains like those on the Zig Zag.”
The minister said ITSR had identified more than 150 instances where Zig Zag was deficient in its safety management, including difficulties in carrying out maintenance on its rolling stock.
The Zig Zag Railway claims that most of the 150 shortfalls claimed by ITSR relate to ‘paperwork’. After 35 years of safe operation, many thousands of volunteer manhours and delighting tourists from all over the world the Zig Zag terminated its passenger services on Sunday afternoon.
Hundreds turned up for what was, at least for now, one last nostalgic ride.