Politics

Get Excited Because Sydney’s New Ferries Are Full Of Asbestos And Don’t Fit Under Bridges

Don't worry, NSW Transport says customers will simply leave the top deck before they are severed in half.

New NSW Ferries have asbestos and are too big to fit under bridges while people are on the top deck

A fleet of ten new Sydney ferries have arrived from Indonesia only to receive a slew of criticism as not only are the ships too large to pass under bridges on the Parramatta River while commuters remain on the top deck, but three ships were found to contain asbestos.

But don’t worry, as Transport for NSW has a plan. Passengers will simply be called to the lower deck before the ferries pass under both the Camellia Railway Bridge and the Gasworks Bridge along the River.

“While customers are able to enjoy the upper deck during their commute, they will need to move to the lower deck when passing the bridge,” a spokesperson told Sydney Morning Herald.

This didn’t go down well with opposition transport minister Chris Minns, who called the new ferries a “fiasco”.

“It puts enormous pressure on transport staff to make sure there’s rock-solid protocols in place to make sure that people aren’t put in danger,” he said.

“Unless [NSW transport and roads minister] Andrew Constance himself is going to yell ‘duck’ as these ferries pass under bridges this looks to be a huge time waste for ferry staff.”

The NSW Government was aware of the height issues when purchasing the boats, and speaking to SMH, pointed towards charter boats at similar heights currently running along the river. On those, too, people on the top deck head down when the ship approaches either of the two bridges.

The ten new River Class ferries are part of a $1.3 billion dollar contract with Transdev, who will operate Sydney ferries for the next nine years. Transdev out-sourced the creation of the River Class ferries to Australian manufacturing company Birdon, who then outsourced it to companies across China, Singapore and Indonesia.

Four of the ferries arrived in Newcastle last week, where Maritime Union workers found asbestos was used in three of the ships. The Union deemed them unsafe to work on, while Transdev said the asbestos was contained and at no risk of becoming airborne.

This has prompted Union officials and Labor MPs to criticise the government for allowing the boats to be built overseas.

The ferries have been compared to a similar issue from 2018, where $2 billion of new NSW trains built in South Korea were too wide for tunnels. At least NSW can gloat over those reversible seats.

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