BATHURST Bullet passengers face weeks of bus and shuttle rail changes as work begins on restoring a damaged section of the train line in the Blue Mountains.
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Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said on Wednesday afternoon that it will take six weeks to fully restore the line after a major landslip last week, between Blackheath and Mount Victoria, caused extensive damage.
He says freight services will be prioritised as the repairs are carried out.
"I have been on the ground to see firsthand the extraordinary damage caused by last week's torrential rain and it's immense - 40,000 tonnes of gabion rock will need to be imported to build up the embankment and slip," Mr Farraway said.
"The scope of the work is a lot more than first expected but I have been impressed with the team effort that I saw.
"My number one priority is to get the Main Western line opened as soon as it's safe so that freight operations can commence, followed by passenger services."
IN OTHER NEWS AROUND BATHURST:
Transport for NSW says replacement bus services are running in both directions between Katoomba and Mount Victoria train stations.
It says train passengers can travel from Central to Penrith on T1 Western Line services, board a shuttle rail service to Katoomba and switch to a bus service to travel to Mount Victoria.
At Mount Victoria, according to Transport for NSW, passengers can rejoin a rail service and travel to Lithgow.
For passengers travelling to Bathurst, bus services are running between Lithgow/Katoomba and Bathurst.
Transport for NSW says services from Broken Hill will operate as normal to Bathurst and then customers will transfer to road coaches for the remainder of the journey to Sydney.
Dubbo XPT services will be replaced by road coaches in both directions for the entire journey.
Mr Farraway said Transport for NSW was working closely with the freight industry and rail operators with a goal of resuming some freight services in two weeks by opening the track some distance from the landslip.
"This option strikes the best compromise between keeping freight moving through that section of the track and restoring the line as soon as possible," he said.
"We have crews working day and night to repair the damage with teams of about 70 a shift and these numbers are set to surge to over 100 people at the height of work."
The landslip on the Main Western line, which occurred late on Monday night, July 5, halfway between Blackheath and Mount Victoria, caused the collapse of the embankment along a 20-metre stretch of track, creating a landslip more than 60 metres deep, according to the NSW Government.
It says this landslip is in a different location to the 16-metre sinkhole that was repaired at Leura following March's severe weather event.
Transport for NSW says train passengers should anticipate amended timetables, allow plenty of extra travel time and plan ahead using the transport apps or visit www.transportnsw.info/regional.
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