Faulty coal train causes line chaos
Hundreds of commuters were late for work yesterday after southbound coal train NW38 suffered a mechanical failure about 6am between Engadine and Loftus.
The train was travelling from the northern coal fields to Port Kembla.
Pacific National last night confirmed there had been a problem with a coupling linking the fully loaded wagons.
The back wagons were pulled into a siding to allow workmen to replace the coupling.
The engine was able to continue along the line.
Southbound commuter trains were suspended until about 8.15am but the breakdown had a knock-on effect for commuters travelling in both directions, causing major delays.
The delays came on the same day comments from transport expert Philip Laird, from the University of Wollongong, were published in the Mercury.
The line was “coming under increasing pressure with freight and passengers” he said, indicating the problem would become worse with duplication of the Sutherland-Cronulla line over the next two years.
The impact and financial cost to commuters of sharing the line with freight trains is sure to be considered as part of the $300,000 pre-feasibility study of the mothballed Maldon-to-Dombarton rail link, formalised in the budget this week.
The drama meant buses had to replace trains in both directions, from Sutherland to Waterfall and Wollongong to Thirroul.
However, passengers such as Pierre Thibaudeau were further delayed because of confusion over which bus to take, with all-stop and direct services available.
The Wollongong TAFE teacher, who travels from Kings Cross each morning, had boarded a bus at Sutherland only to be told that a train would soon arrive.
Eventually, he changed to another bus.
He missed his early classes due to the delay.
“What I’m really angry about is not the delay, but the insanity of a system that has freight and passenger trains sharing the same track,” Mr Thibaudeau said.