WALHALLA GOLDFIELDS RAILWAY OFFICIAL STATEMENT 23/12/06
Following fire activity which has continued through the week, WGR has suffered significant infrastructure damage and the Railway is closed until further notice. Bridges 1-6 (the Stringers Creek trestles extending from Walhalla yard over a 800m section) have been saved after strenous efforts from DSE fire bombing helicopters, CFA and a small group of WGR personnel. A DSE 4wd vehicle with fire pump and equipment was despatched to the fire scene by the train on Thursday morning where the fire burnt down to the rail level.
At Happy Creek Station (2km from Walhalla), the fire also burnt to the platform itself and a stack of 150 new sleepers was saved following application of fire retardant. WGR was directed by DSE not to return to Walhalla due to the intense heat and risk of falling trees, and proceeded to Thomson. The fire continued throughout Thursday night and Friday and has burnt the eastern side of the line in the Stringers Creek gorge through to the down end of the Thomson River railway bridge. Following rain on Friday night, the fire risk has been downgraded for the immediate future.
As a result of the fires the confirmed asset damage is as follows:
+ Bridge No. 7 ("Three Span" or also known as "Cascade Bridge", 600m from Happy Creek Station has been severely damaged and will require a complete rebuild at an intial estimated commercial cost of
+Approximately 200 sleepers destroyed between Happy Creek and Thomson destroyed
+At ground internal telephone cable destroyed
All fallen trees and rubble have now been removed and DSE personnel are continuing to remove trees above the rail which are regarded as potential hazardous. Geo-technical advice is also been sought about soil and rock stability above the line.
Replacement construction options for Bridge No.7 are underway and WGR gratefully acknowledges the support offered by the Puffing Billy Railway in addressing some of the immediate recovery issues.
Subject to to the confirmation of the safe condition of the railway infrastructure between Walhalla and Happy Creek, it is proposed to commence a shuttle service over that section of line from 31 December.
(The passenger cars and Kasey loco are at Walhalla whilst the Fowler loco is at Thomson).
The public is reminded that whilst they are very welcome to visit Walhalla once the roads are reopened, the WGR's track is a restricted area and unauthorized persons must not attempt to enter.
Further updates will posted here and on the website http://www.walhallarail.com
WGR would like to express its grateful thanks to the DSE and CFA personnel who worked so hard to minimize our asset losses.