Jan 15, 2010

Historic Day for the Nation’s Rail Industry

Historic Day for the Nation’s Rail Industry

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

January 15 2010

At midnight tonight management of the rail line between the Queensland border and the Brisbane suburb of Acacia Ridge transfers to the Australian Rail Track Corporation under a 60 year lease.

Attending today’s official handover ceremony, the Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the Queensland Government’s decision to lease this 101 kilometre section of track creates for the first time a truly national rail network connecting all mainland states.

"Over recent years, the six separate state-based arrangements which dominated our country’s rail system for more than century have been gradually replaced with one set of common rules, operating standards and access regulations under the control of the ARTC," said Mr Albanese.

"The extension of the national network into Queensland is a significant milestone in the continuing development of a nation-wide standard gauge rail network.

"In fact, transport operators will now be able to access under one single contract a network of more than 11,000 kilometres of track extending all the way from Acacia Ridge in Brisbane to Melbourne in the south and Kalgoorlie in the west."

The 60 year lease will allow the ARTC to make the necessary long term investment decisions, in line with improvements being made across the whole network.

ARTC Chief Executive Officer David Marchant said today’s official handover has been marked by the completion of a $55.8 million upgrade of the line.

"Using funds provided by the Federal Government from its Economic Stimulus Plan, the ARTC has replaced all the old wooden sleepers with 105,000 new concrete sleepers, and installed new line and signal infrastructure," said Mr Marchant.

"Concrete sleepers have significant advantages over timber sleepers, greatly improving a track’s capacity and transit times as well as reduce the need for temporary speed restrictions in the summer months. Whereas wooden sleepers tend to buckle on extremely hot days, concrete sleepers hold the rail firmly in place.

"The upgrade has also been good news for the wider community. Not only did it create work for 120 people during the global recession, the new track will allow more freight to be transported by rail – which overtime will lead to fewer trucks on our roads."

One 1,500-metre train can replace around 100 trucks.