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Upgrade to cure track black spots
By ELLEN CONNOLLY
"Black spots" on the State's rail network, which make it impossible for signallers to know the exact position of trains, are to be rectified in a $7 million upgrade being fast-tracked because of the Glenbrook disaster.
The installation of the system in the Greater Sydney, Lithgow, South Coast and Newcastle regions is expected to begin this year and will mean that all train movements are tracked on a computer indicator board, enabling signallers to know a train's exact location, a Rail Access Corporation spokesman said yesterday.
The problem of "dark territory" - when signallers are "in the dark" about where trains are located - has been highlighted at the special commission of inquiry into the Glenbrook crash, which claimed seven lives.
The inquiry has heard that signallers had no way of knowing the position of the Indian Pacific because of the black areas that exist on the Blue Mountains line.
Acting Justice Peter McInerney has said this was one of the major factors that contributed to the December 2 crash.
"Is there any technical reason for a lack of such a system in the 21st century?" Mr McInerney remarked to the inquiry last week.
At the inquiry yesterday, Mr John Curtin, an engineer in signalling with the Rail Access Corporation, said it would cost more than $100,000 to fix the Blue Mountains area, and about $7 million for the whole of the State.
Mr Curtin compiled a proposal on March 2 titled Signals and Dark Territory recommending the "elimination of all dark areas".
A spokesman from the Rail Access Corporation said it was "100 per cent committed to safety" and the upgrade would be completed in two years.
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