Sections of the Hunter Valley rail network will be shut down from February 9 to 12 to allow for major maintenance work.
Work will include over 400 separate maintenance jobs, with track reconditioning a particular focus, said ARTC group executive Hunter Valley Network Wayne Johnson.
“We are expecting above average rainfall in the Hunter Valley during autumn and into winter so track reconditioning work is a priority to address drainage and wet ground conditions” he said.
“This type of track maintenance work means we can manage the mud holes which can develop in areas of poor drainage in the rail track ballast.”
Johnson said that the work on mud holes would improve the efficiency and amenity of the network.
“It’s is really important to prevent these because they can lead to the slowing down of the trains, which we want to avoid wherever possible,” he said.
“Apart from speed restrictions and reducing the overall efficiency of the network, another problem created by wet ground conditions is issues with track geometry, which can increase noise generation as the train wheels pass over and deformations when brakes are applied.”
Over the four-day shutdown, crews will excavate and replace the structural earthworks layer that supports the ballast, sleepers, and rail.
“As part of the reconditioning process, we will also add new ballast, replace sleepers and rails and restore rail corridor drainage,” said Johnson.
Over a thousand workers will complete the numerous maintenance jobs in the short timeframe, having begun in the morning of Tuesday, February 9, and finishing on Friday, February 12.
Other works will include the Muswellbrook Bridge replacement program, and replacing a major crossover and turnout at Maitland, 12 kilometres of rail, and steel components on nine turnouts.
Another shutdown is scheduled for April 2021.