Zig Zag Zogged

Filed under Serendipity ~ by Throsby on  28 Jul 2012


The Independent Transport Safety Regulator (ITSR) found 150 instances of Zig Zag Railway deficiencies in safety management. ITSR found Zig Zag had difficulty maintaining rolling stock and in March 2012 restricted Zig Zag’s passenger operations to diesel railcars.

In June ITSR reported Zig Zag’s management of safety had deteriorated further. Zig Zag Railway ceased operations until it satisfies ITSR that safety issues are addressed.

Transport for NSW organised a safety expert to help Zig Zag Railway assess their safety management system and provide advice on the steps needed for Zig Zag Railway to deal with the safety concerns.  The expert reported safety, organisation and financial issues affecting the long term viability of the Zig Zag Railway.

The NSW Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday she will “consider advice.”

So, what’s the Zig Zag and why do you care?

Built in the 1860s, the railway allowed trains from the western plains of NSW to Sydney to climb the Blue Mountains from the valley by literally zig-zagging up the hillside. By 1910 the final of 10 tunnels bypassed the tedious but ever exciting climb, which required numerous waits – and occasional runaways – while rail points were changed at each section.

Image: Aah, the days when OH&S was a bureaucrat’s mere evil inkling. Click to enlarge.

Decades ago I took little Throsby to experience the pleasures of hot cinders in eyes and rocking rolling stock with wide open windows on this famous leg of historic track. Maximum torque at zero revs on a slippery steep steel rail line is a tricky thing. On our way back up, the train, with only two passenger cars, needed 3 attempts to gain enough speed and/or burn the mist off the tracks, before making a section.

Throsby knows we have a gummint under financial stress and people are losing jobs, fire stations are closing, and worse to come. But the Zig Zag folk, along with our own Richmond Vale enthusiasts and all others of like, are doing it for nothing and attracting tourist dollars – and enriching our lives.

Surely State Rail has sufficient resources to second staff in miniscule rotation to these volunteer organisations, especially when it becomes so critical that safety issues shut down a working museum.

If the gummint can afford a safety expert, can’t they toss in a mechanic too?

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