Extreme weather events have thrown rail networks into chaos, with damaged tracks, reduced services and some lines still under water.
Ongoing and widespread wet weather and flooding in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania have seen rail passengers impacted for months.
Wyangala Dam in the NSW Central West is spilling 230,000 megalitres a day, with significant amount of waters flooding into the Lachlan River catchment.
NSW rail networks
The Western line has been badly impacted by extreme weather, with much of the line between Parkes and Broken Hill closed and some of it still under floodwaters.
The Cootamundra to Parkes Line, is closed between Stockinbingal and Parkes, and the Broken Hill line is closed between Bogan Gate and Euabalong, an Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) representative said.
"ARTC is still assessing the full damage caused by the flooding, but we are aware of multiple locations on the Cootamundra to Parkes line where ballast has been washed away or displaced," the representative said.
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ARTC aims to reopen the the Cootamundra to Parkes line on Saturday, November 19.
A full assessment of the Broken Hill line is yet to be conducted as floodwaters are still rising in the area.
"Given the level of flooding impact on the line, we are not expecting to open the Broken Hill line until the end of November," the representative said.
ARTC was unable to provide a total repair cost due as the extent of damage is still being assessed.
Given the level of flooding impact on the line, we are not expecting to open the Broken Hill line until the end of November.- Australian Rail Track Corporation representative
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said extreme weather events in February-March, July, and October-November, have caused extensive flood damage across the state's rail network. This has led to reduced services and temporary line closures, with speed restrictions imposed for safety reasons.
"The repair and recovery task after each weather event is mammoth. Every effort is made to restore the network and reconnect communities as quickly as possible," she said.
ACM understands the repair bill is costing millions of dollars, but due to the ongoing nature of weather events and repairs, a final cost has not been reached.
The most significant damage from this year's wet weather has been to intercity and regional services operated by NSW Trains.
Cancellations and delays have ranged from a matter of hours to days, depending on the damage and this has had a flow-on effect to other lines.
"Sydney Trains and NSW Trains apologise for these disruptions, and we want to assure commuters we will always prioritise safety when planning our services," the spokeswoman said.
Victorian rail networks
Flooding experienced during October after extreme weather and significant rainfall, had a substantial impact to V/Line services, resulted in service changes on several lines.
Repair work to date has included around 1500 metres of track which was damaged by floodwaters.
Passenger services were suspended at various times on the Seymour, Shepparton, Albury, Warrnambool, Swan Hill and Echuca lines due to the weather impacts.
- Seymour train services were suspended from October 13 until October 15
- Albury train services were suspended from October 13 until October 16
- Warrnambool train services were suspended from October 13 until October 14
- Shepparton train services were suspended from October 13 until October 31
- Echuca train services were suspended from October 13 until November 4
- Swan Hill train services were suspended on October 13, with crews currently working to return trains to the line as quickly and safely as possible.
Several freight train lines were impacted by floodwaters.
Manly scheduled and replacement coaches were unable to operate due to road conditions.
"We've been working hard to restore train and coach services as quickly and safely as possible once floodwaters subside, and our crews can carry out the required inspections and repairs," a V/Line spokesman said.
"Safety always remains our first priority and we thank passengers for their patience while services were unable to run."
Metro, which operates rail services around Melbourne, experienced minor issues such as tree debris on tracks during extreme weather in October.
During the month, 511 services were delayed or cancelled by wet weather out of 68,132 services. Among this were 68 services at Essendon Station when trains could not stop there due to floodwaters.
We've been working hard to restore train and coach services as quickly and safely as possible once floodwaters subside.- V/Line spokesman
In October, 2169 Metro train services were delayed or cancelled by wet weather out of 665,368 scheduled services which amounts to 0.33 per cent.
By comparison, in October 2021, there were 2190 trains delayed or cancelled by wet weather, from a total of 784,577 scheduled services which amounts to 0.28 per cent.
TasRail, which operates rail services in Tasmania, did not respond to ACM's request for comment.