Teams of specialist engineers and environmental advisers have begun work on identifying and investigating the design, safety and conservation issues associated with the proposed Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the work now being undertaken will help get the project ‘shovel ready’ and include assessing the structural integrity of the line’s partially constructed sections.
“As with any new, major piece of infrastructure we need to make sure that we get the planning right from the very beginning. What’s more, the work of the consultants will be vital to securing the necessary planning and environmental approvals,” said Mr Albanese.
“Our aim is to have all these preconstruction activities wrapped up in time for the project to be considered for possible inclusion in our next multibillion dollar road and rail construction program due to start in mid-2014.”
The project would involve laying thirty five kilometres of standard gauge track connecting Port Kembla directly to the Main North South Line via Dombarton and include two passing loops, new bridges over the Nepean and Cordeaux Rivers and one of Australia’s longest tunnels.
NSW Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay said ecologists were inspecting the flora and fauna and monitoring nocturnal activity.
“Aquatic ecologists are looking at the fish, insects and water organisms in the nearby creeks, rivers and waterholes while a team of heritage experts are reviewing Aboriginal heritage within the study area,” said Mr Gay.
“The engineering team is focussing on design and related safety issues associated with operating diesel hauled freight trains through a four kilometre long tunnel.
“They are also surveying the connecting ends of the line, assessing the condition of the embankments, drainage and cuttings and potential construction sites along the corridor.”