The rebuilding of the Interstate Rail Network between Broken Hill and Parkes has today reached the halfway mark with the laying of the 500,000th new, Australian-made concrete sleeper.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed the progress that’s been made since the start of work back in January, with the entire $253 million project on track to be completed by the middle of next year.
“All up, just over a million (1,040,000) new concrete sleepers will be used on what is the most extensive upgrade of this 691 kilometre line since it was first opened in 1927,” said Mr Albanese.
“This is one of the biggest projects in the Gillard Labor Government’s $3.4 billion capital works program to rebuild over a third of the nation’s 10,000 kilometre interstate rail network, which is now more than halfway through.
“Indeed, the modernisation of the nation’s rail freight infrastructure is central to our broader efforts to lift national productivity, curb harmful carbon emissions and take the pressure off our highways.”
ARTC CEO John Fullerton explained the upgrade of the line to concrete sleepers will improve ride quality and increase the overall efficiency of the corridor.
”By replacing old timber sleepers with newly fabricated concrete sleepers the project will deliver long term benefits to our customers which is why we are pushing forward with our plans to upgrade the East West corridor and make rail even more competitive,” said Mr Fullerton.
“In the short term the delivery of this project is creating jobs and generating economic activity in communities along the 700 kilometres of track as well as in other major regional centres.
“In particular, Austrak in Wagga Wagga employed 53 people to produce 500,000 of the new concrete sleepers while in Grafton and Braemar Rocla employed a total of 76 people to produce another 500,000 sleepers.
“The East West rail corridor is a vital piece of infrastructure connecting capital cities across our broad continent. It’s important that this rail link is maintained as a value adding asset in the transport logistics market, not only for the benefit of our national economy, but for the benefit of local communities spread along the line.”
Other improvements being undertaken as part of this multi-million upgrade include new turnouts, safer level crossings, improved drainage, and upgraded bridges and culverts.