Historical upgrade almost complete
A major component of the largest, most extensive upgrade of the nation’s Interstate Rail Network in almost a century has entered the home straight with the replacement of the old timber sleepers with 3.4 million new Australian-made concrete sleepers to be completed within weeks.
Transport minister Anthony Albanese marked the milestone by joining the project team working to complete the Broken Hill to Parkes section on June 22 and helping to “clip in” one of the new sleepers.
“Funded in part by our successful Economic Stimulus Plan and manufactured by Austrak in Wagga and Rocla in Braemar and Grafton, the new sleepers will increase the network’s capacity and reliability, allowing it to carry bigger trains at faster speeds including during the hotter summer months,” Albanese said.
“All up, we are currently rebuilding and modernising more than a third of the nation’s 10,000 kilometre Interstate Rail Network. Our aim here is simple: we want more freight on the back of trains. This would not only take the pressure off our highways, but also reduce harmful carbon emissions and boost national productivity.”
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) acting chief exectuive Andrew Bishop said the upgrade of the 691 kilometre line between Broken Hill and Parkes, delivered in alliance with Transfield Services, was an excellent example of how modernising the rail freight network brings benefits to the local and national economies.
“This investment in the rail network will deliver a safer more reliable track, but has also supported the local economy by utilising local and indigenous labour, as well as regional contractors and suppliers,” Bishop said.
“The project has also up-skilled a number of local workers new to the industry to a Certificate III in Rail Infrastructure,” he added.
Albanese said he wanted to particularly acknowledge the hundreds of workers who have been involved in the project.
“Thanks to their expertise and hard work the entire re-sleepering program will be completed on time and on budget,” he said.
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