119 Wash-outs. But who's counting?

In a similar vein to the commencement of seasonal operations over the past couple of years, the 2009 season is also going to be a ‘wash-out’. It’s very difficult to describe to people that don’t live in the tropics,  the sort of damage a ‘proper’ wet season can do to a fragile railway like that which the Savannahlander runs on.  The main thing is that the bridges have remained intact over the season, albeit some need to have some alignment corrections done, but these are potentially the items that can cause long term disruptions to the service.  The problems are washouts, all 119 of them, which are going to prevent us from getting through to Forsayth at the beginning of the season.

A washout is where the ballast or  track bed that supports the rails and sleepers is carried away in floodwater, leaving the tracks hanging over some some deep holes. Combined with the damage to ‘our’ line, there is also bad flood damage done to the Great Northern Railway, between Townsville and Mt Isa, which due to resource demand, will affect the time in which the Savannahlander track can be repaired.

A time for completion of repair works is a week by week proposition at the moment, and anyone with early season bookings should check here or on the Savannahlander Website for updates. We will be receiving a weekly progress report from the gangs out at work on the line.

The most affected month will be March, and it is likely that we won’t get past Almaden until the end of that month. This is particualarly disappointing because we have received an uncommonly high amout of bookings for that period this year. Passengers with bookings are welcome to cancel their trips outright and with a full refund, or we will arrange an alternative Savannahlander trip over a shorter distance – depending on how much track is available.

So you get an idea of the amount of water running through the district, below are a couple of pictures of the Copperfield river, one of the rail bridge, and the other being the road causeway that is next to the bridge. Compare this with views in normal times.

Copperfield River

Copperfield River

The Road Causeway

The Road Causeway

Normal levels

Normal levels