Victoria Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder
Ombudsman’s City Loop Safety Report Damns Labor
Victor P Taffa
The Victorian Ombudsman’s report into the safety of the City Loop tunnels is a damning condemnation of how over 11 years in government, three former Labor Ministers for Transport failed to sufficiently act on seven reports highlighting the condition of the City Loop’s infrastructure, Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said today.
“This report shows why Labor remains completely unfit to govern Victoria.” Mr. Mulder said.
“After the previous Labor Government received three reports from the Victorian Managed Insurance Agency about the lack of fire protection at Flinders Street, the busiest railway station in Victoria, Labor preferred to spend $130 million in 2009-10 on advertising rather than pay for $37,237 of low cost fire protection improvements.”
Mr Mulder said that despite seven separate reports about the poor condition of fire services pipes, emergency walkways or the ventilation systems’ smoke extraction capability in the City Loop, Labor failed to prioritise the expenditure needed to maintain the City Loop.
“The Ombudsman’s finding that ‘for at least 11 years (the former Labor Government) and its franchisees were advised about problems with key emergency systems in the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop’ but (Labor) ‘did not ensure that action was taken to address these problems in a timely manner’ is extremely serious.” Mr. Mulder said.
“Even worse, when the previous Labor government finally provided a budget towards the maintenance of the loop, they then quickly diverted off funds from this project to cover maintenance issues elsewhere on the network as their years of general under-investment led to poor performance with increasing late and cancelled train trips.”
Mr. Mulder said since the Victorian Coalition Government’s creation of Public Transport Victoria on 2 April 2012, fixing these serious safety problems has been addressed as a high priority while more attention was being given to the City Loop generally.
“The Coalition Government has now increased rail maintenance and renewals spending to at least $225 Million a year.” Mr. Mulder said.
“Spending in the current financial year on rail maintenance and renewals is expected to reach $247 Million.”
“In November 2011, the Coalition Government provided almost $7 Million to repair cracks in the ventilation shafts and conduct other works.”
“Emergency walkways, fire hydrants and pipes and drains have been or are being repaired while ventilation fan and hot smoke testing has occurred.” Mr. Mulder said.
Mr. Mulder said the Victorian Coalition Government has:
- Installed a fire protection system at Flinders Street station (completed in August 2012);
- Replaced corroded fire services pipes (completed in September 2012);
- Cleaned emergency walkways (completed in September 2012);
- Initiated a CSIRO study into City Loop ventilation (to be completed in December 2012) with appropriate work to occur thereafter;
- Introduced Victoria Police Protective Services Officers at stations including Melbourne Central and Parliament, patrolling from 6 pm until last train daily;
- Tested fire hydrants and remedied defects (completed in December 2012):
- Undertaken repairs of emergency walkways (to be completed in January 2013);
- Scheduled pipe cleaning and deburring (removing sharp points) (to be undertaken in January and February 2013);
- Arranged to address track bolt failures (to be completed in January 2013);
- Commissioned a Train Protection and Warning System for V/Line country trains at three metropolitan locations with a further 14 (to be completed by April 2013);
- Commenced mapping tunnel cracks with resultant repair and decalcification (to be completed in June 2013);
- Commenced replacing cracked sleepers (to be completed in June 2013).
“Metro has now finalised its emergency management procedures for the City Loop and its stations.” Mr. Mulder said.
“Metro’s move to basing maintenance and renewals on asset performance and determining when assets should be maintained to avoid failures is a further positive step.”
“In contrast to the previous Labor Government’s disgraceful failure to promptly act on reports about the condition of the City Loop, the Coalition Government has acted quickly and will continue to act to improve our vital rail system, with safety a continuing priority.” Mr. Mulder said.