Ten tunnels: Divining our rail future is no easy task

PROGRESSING WORK: Lithgow's Main Street work is continuing this week, with one-way traffic conditions in place. Pictures: KIRSTY HORTON.
PROGRESSING WORK: Lithgow's Main Street work is continuing this week, with one-way traffic conditions in place. Pictures: KIRSTY HORTON.

THE Great Train Fiasco (great name for a movie) just gets more and more bizarre. According to a Sydney media report the latest brain snap is that planners are having second thoughts about the previously announced ‘shaving’ of the Zig Zag tunnel walls and instead are contemplating a ‘marginal’ reduction in the long established safety margins between passing trains. Are they for real? 

Then a media letter writer’s claim in the Mountains last week that these cut price trains from Korea won’t have toilets. I’m sure someone will tell us it’s not true but the way this project is unravelling anything’s possible. So welcome to the Third World. 

At least if it’s true they won’t have to worry about overcrowding from Lithgow; not many over middle age will be able to survive the trip.

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This whole thing has been a fiasco from day one hen some bureaucrat had a eureka moment in snubbing Australian manufacturers in favour of cheaper off the shelf Korean rolling stock. The problem with that is that no one had done their homework to understand the difference between rail gauge and loading gauge. 

The result as we all now know is new trains that won’t fit through the platforms or tunnels on the Mountains Line west of Springwood. If the currently proposed safety work on the 10 tunnels does go ahead it will inevitably mean significant disruption to coal and other freight haulage from the west.  

Watch out for single line running between Oaky Park and Bell, or worse, termination of passenger services at Mt Victoria. Ominously the Coalition politicians are staying silent on the issue, leaving he commentary to the Opposition who will have fertile ground to hoe come the next election.   

Where’s that again?

SEEMS cost cutting has now even reached our most read reference book - the telephone directory. This year for the first time in the modern era there are no NSW and ACT post codes listed in the good book. (The rest of the nation was slashed a while back).  Twelve pages last year, everything from Aarons Pass to Zetland; this year in our 063 directory it’s zilch. 

A note in the directory advises post code seekers to contact your local post office or go online. It will be remembered a couple of years back the directory people had to go back to Plan A when there was public outrage at the reduced print size. So much for service. 

Lost priorities

IT has been distressing to observe the increasing presence of obviously homeless people in Lithgow over the past few months. In locally unprecedented numbers people are sleeping rough in parks, shop doorways, wherever there is at least minimal shelter. One reader has even reported sighting a woman with two children sharing a blanket in the underground car park at Woolworths.

Our limited support services can’t cope with their very limited supply of emergency accommodation. With winter coming on it will only become far worse. Billions can be found for the luxury of new footy stadiums in the big city but a pittance for the real needs of the population. Where did our ‘caring’ society lose its way?

Countdown?

IT’S now three months since that Lithgow CBD ‘revitalisation’ got under way, quickly disrupted as it was by the lengthy Christmas shutdown. The pace of activity on the work sites has picked up lately so perhaps, for better or for worse, we will soon see just what it is that we (using that term loosely) signed up for.

Times of change

PLEASING to note Lithgow Coles will cease issuing plastic bags from mid July. The local store has also beefed up its recycling collection facility for all manner of plastic discards. There’s a trend emerging here.