THREE old Hitachi train carriages have been transported to Bendigo to test for the presence of asbestos and other hazardous materials before their possible dismantling.
The carriages arrived at Southern Shorthaul Railroad’s workshop in North Bendigo last week after being transported from a facility in Newport.
There are concerns they contain asbestos around the windows.
The carriages are among dozens kept in storage at Newport. Metro Trains, which is responsible for the carriages, is searching for solutions to remove them.
Metro Trains spokesperson Andrew Nelson said all precautions had been taken to remove the risk to the public.
“We always make sure that our retired trains and carriages are handled safely, taking into consideration environmental concerns,” he said.
“A team of experts is currently carrying out a hazardous materials inspection on these carriages, ensuring there are no risks to the local community.”
The inspection in Bendigo will investigate the presence of other hazardous materials in addition to asbestos.
They were assessed by a hygienist before they were transported to Bendigo to ensure they were safe for transportation.
The Bendigo site was chosen as Metro Trains believes it has the necessary “space, expertise and equipment” to carry out the inspection.
Once the inspection works are complete, a decision will be made about their future which could include dismantling the carriages – and further carriages – in Bendigo.
A spokesperson for WorkSafe said they would ensure the works were being carried out safely.
“WorkSafe is making inquiries to ensure any asbestos removal work is carried out appropriately,” she said.
The Hitachi trains were introduced to the Melbourne network in 1972 and were replaced progressively from 2002. The last train was withdrawn in 2014.
They were the last trains to have windows that could be opened. Asbestos was believed to play a role in allowing the windows to open.
A six-carriage set was intended to be given to preservation group Elecrail, but that plan was cancelled.
Southern Shorthaul Railroads was contacted for comment.