THE Baillieu government has been accused of condemning central Victorian train travellers to slower journeys and damaging the environment in a bid to save money as it rehabilitates the Seymour railway line.
Thousands of degraded wooden sleepers on the regional line are being replaced with new wooden sleepers harvested from redgum forests in New South Wales, after the government opted not to lay concrete sleepers because of higher cost and pressure from freight rail operators.
Concrete sleepers are held to be superior to wooden ones because they last more than three times longer, which makes them environmentally friendlier, and because they enable trains to run at faster speeds.
Tens of thousands of old wooden sleepers in Melbourne and regional Victoria have been replaced with concrete sleepers in recent years. They enable V/Line trains to travel up to 30km/h faster and release as little as a fifth of the carbon emissions over their 60-year lifespan compared with wooden sleepers over the same time.
About 52,000 sleepers are being replaced along the Seymour line as part of a $9 million upgrade, but about 25,000 of them will be wooden.
Adam Carey, The Age, September 25, 2012