The federal government will spend $44.7 million to upgrade 35km of the Narrabri to Turrawan Line in north-western NSW.
The funding, delivered by the Australian Rail Track Corporation, will improve the connection between the Hunter Valley Coal Network and the future Inland Rail alignment, increasing the capacity and reliability of freight rail.
Works will involve replacing existing sleepers with concrete sleepers, upgrading level crossings, and improving the rail quality on the Narrabri Coal Junction to Turrawan, as well as the Turrawan to Narrabri North section.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the project would enable more freight to be carried on rail.
“Narrabri to Turrawan is an essential link along this network and this upgrade will allow longer and heavier freight trains travelling from Northern NSW – transporting grain and cotton – to access the Newcastle and Sydney Ports,” McCormack said.
“This upgrade will allow greater volumes of freight moved on each train reducing transport costs and enhancing competitiveness for Australian exports.”
The upgraded section of track will link to the Narromine to Narrabri section of Inland Rail. The Environmental Impact Statement for that section is currently on public display ahead of planning determination by the NSW government.
“Improving connectivity to a nation-first project like Inland Rail is absolutely game-changing for the region, allowing for more efficient supply chain movements to bolster the local economy well into the future,” McCormack said.
“Investing in the rail backbone of our supply chains also acts as catalysts for further economic growth by delivering the confidence producers and businesses need to expand and diversify, creating jobs and encouraging local investment to provide an ongoing boost to local communities and the economy.”
Local member Mark Coulton said the project will enable the existing line to be compatible with new infrastructure, with trains with 25 tonne axle loads able to travel at 80km/h.
“The 35-kilometre upgrade of the Narrabri to Turrawan Line is welcome news for the local farming community and other businesses using the rail line to get their products to market, with the new load specifications directly compatible with Inland Rail,” he said.
“This will mean trains currently unable to travel on this section between northern NSW and Newcastle port will soon be able to traverse the track, allowing greater freight volumes to travel to Newcastle and Sydney ports – where the majority of grain and cotton from this region is exported.”