For information of members and friends.
At approx 12:25 pm on Friday the 17th of January 2014, during school holiday operations, an over height vehicle heading south hit the Princes Highway crossing overhead and pulled the trolley wire down. The offending vehicle didn’t stop, and it’s quite possible the driver was unaware they had hit the wire. The following motorist witnessed the incident and informed the emergency services and the museum. This matter is now in the hands of the Police.
The power protection systems cut in, automatically turning off the power. The overhead over the crossing was also designed with the possibility of being hit in mind, so the damage is restricted to just the crossing itself.
The local Police and Fire brigade also attended and shortly an Ausgrid crew turned up as well. By that time one of the museum’s overhead crew had arrived and they were assisted by the Ausgrid crew to clear the fallen wire from the roadway with the minimum impact to the rest of the overhead.
At the time of the incident, a tram 249 was at the National Park terminus and was trapped there for several hours while appropriate authorities were informed and technical personal attended the museum. A member of the day’s traffic staff fetched the stranded passengers with his own small van. After the damaged trolley wire was made safe and the National Park line re-energized (via the catenary part of the crossing overhead) 249 was driven under it’s own power back to the crossing but had to be towed across the highway with the tractor under the watchful eyes of the local Police. The level crossing equipment was undamaged, and the crossing lights operated normally while 249 was being towed back across the highway.
After 249 was recovered, the National Park line was electrically isolated and the line closed with the staff for the section locked away. The however museum site and the Sutherland line are still available for operations and the museum opened with restricted operations as normal on Sunday and will be open the rest of the school holidays.
At this stage the board has not had an opportunity to asses the options, costs or time frame of repairs. Any one wanting more information or to make offers of assistance, please contact a museum board member.
This photo was taken on Sunday from beside the No2 substation. Unfortunately the thin overhead wires don’t show too well from the background. The remains of the trolley wire are tied off to the span wires to keep the system safe.
April 20, 2014
While it appears nothing has happened with restoring the crossing for some time, rest assured the board, particularly Greg Sutherland have been working behind the scenes to find and organize a cost effective restoration of the overhead so that services can resume. It’s hoped that we will be able to announce a date for restoration of services in the next couple of weeks.
Professional overhead contractors have been organized and traffic control and permits for a closure of the Princes Highway have also been arranged. The work will have to be undertaken at night when traffic impacts to the Princes Highway will be minimal. At this point the contractors are waiting for a gap in their main contracted works program the railways.
May 28, 2014
A date has been set for the reconstruction of the crossing overhead. However since the date is not 100% fixed as the contractors are working the museum in between other more lucrative work, the actual planned date will not be announced, as it could slip if the contractors get called away to a railway job. But keep an eye on this page, as soon as the wire goes up, it will be announced here.
Note however, the wire being restored won’t mean immediate (i.e. next day) restoration of services, as since the line has been out of use for 5 months, a FULL engineering inspection will have to be undertaken to re-certify the line for passenger traffic. This may take a few days.
10/11th June 2014
John Holland Rail and their contractors came to Loftus on 10th of June to replace the trolley wire. Traffic controllers started at around 8pm setting up warning signs and closing off one lane each way on the highway for one km each site of the crossing. Due to the ‘class’ of the road, a total road closure was not allowed, but instead one lane each way was open with a 40km/hr ‘road works’ speed limit and traffic controllers monitoring the situation. The traffic controllers reopened all lanes on the highway shortly before 3am.
John Holland Rail group bought a scissors lift overhead repair truck and a ‘cherry picker’ bucket lift, both ‘road rail’ capable.
After much preparation they removed the ‘stray’ ends of the old trolley wire on each side, attached the new trolley wire (that the museum had supplied) and ran that wire out across the road, first supporting it on droppers with pulleys, and once tensioned, they went back and attached the wire permanently, regularly checking the height as they went.
The museum also supplied the correct fittings for the contact wire as they are different from what the railways use, a complete set of which had been previously prepared by Glenn Killham, who also had prepared a couple of ‘pull off kits’ to replace damaged ones near the crossing. Having these available speed up the work as anything non standard the John Hollands crew needed was at hand.
The John Holland rail group scissors lift overhead construction vehicle and Boom Lift (Photos: Matthew Geier)
The new trolley wire has been placed at 5.9m high, 40cm higher than it was previously, but this is still with in the 6m maximum height our trams are designed for. (And way over the 4.6m maximum legal vehicle height.) However checks will be made to ensure cars with shorter poles will track properly.
An album of photos taken during the evening:
Rolling out the new trolley wire over the crossing.
Time lapse of the evenings work.
On Wednesday the 11th of June, Ballast Motor 42s ‘Bob’ became the first tram to run into the National Park since January. Some checks and adjustments were carried out during this trip.
Recommissioning the National Park line
On Saturday the 14th a ‘blitz’ was held to check the National Park line and return it to traffic. A group of museum track workers walked the line tending to a number of minor issues (like loose Pandrol clips) and generally giving everything a close inspection. The curves were greased and the line was ‘handed back’ for normal traffic operations for Sunday the 15th.
This draws to a close the 5 month interruption to our services cause by truck damage to the level crossing.
What about the truck ?
Many people ask what happened to the truck. Unfortunately the police were not able to collect enough evidence to make a case against the alleged driver and the case has been closed with no charges laid.