The conversion of Australiaâs North South corridor from wooden to concrete sleepers has dramatically reduced the number of heat related speed restrictions on the rail link over the summer season.
In past years, Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) could place blanket speed restrictions on heat affected areas on 50 days every summer, significantly increasing transit time between Australia’s major capitals.
However, this summer, there were no heat related speed restrictions placed on the upgraded track between Sydney-Brisbane, with only localised restrictions on the Sydney-Melbourne link on fewer than 10 days.
“Thanks to the $400m project to replace 2.2m wooden sleepers with concrete sleepers on the North South corridor along with the $100m concrete resleepering project between the New South Wales border and Acacia Ridge in Queensland, temporary speed restrictions are the most part a thing of the past,” ARTC chief executive John Fullerton said.
“By introducing concrete sleepers, ARTC has significantly increased the strength of the track. The sheer weight of the concrete sleepers and their connection ot the steel rails holds the track firmly in place and helps prevent heat related buckling.”
Along with the concrete re-sleepering project, the new passing loops, signal upgrades, and track and bridgework on the North South corridor demonstrates ARTC’s commitment to build freight volumes on rail between Melbourne and Brisbane, Fullerton said.
“For ARTC this upgrade is part of our strategy to handle a larger proportion of the freight task on the eastern seaboard of Australia and it marks rail’s ongoing resurgence as a realistic freight option for all transport users,” he said.
ARTC’s current $253m resleepering project involves more than one million new concrete sleepers to rebuild the 691km rail line between Broken Hill and Parkes.
Past upgrades include:
&bull    401,000 new concrete standard gauge sleepers on the entire rail link between Melbourne and the South Australian border ($105m).
&bull    105,000 new concrete sleepers between the Queensland border and Acacia Ridge ($55.8m).
&bull    33,000 new concrete sleepers along the Metro freight connection between Tottenham and Somerton in Melbourne ($6m).
&bull    301,000 new concrete sleepers along the 201km Cootamundra to Parkes line ($91.5m).
&bull    3.2 million concrete sleepers between Brisbane and Melbourne.