Infrastructure and regional development minister Warren Truss has announced the winner of a $119.6 million contract for Tasmanian track upgrades.
VEC Civil Engineering was awarded the contract, the single largest tender of the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Project, on November 20.
VEC is based in Ulverstone, Tasmania, and has offices in Hobart, Melbourne and Woolloongabba, Queensland. It specialises in structural works in the roads, rail and maritime sectors.
The contract includes re-sleepering, re-railing and associated track upgrade works on Tasmania’s Melba and Western lines. Around 48,000 sleepers and 30km of rail will be upgraded, while a timetable for freight will be maintained throughout.
“Works as part of the Freight Rail Revitalisation are taking place on the rail network across the state, helping to ensure safe, reliable and environmentally responsible freight solutions are available in Tasmania for years to come,” Truss said.
Tasmanian minister for infrastructure Rene Hidding said the contract would target near-life expired track infrastructure for upgrade. “The track infrastructure targeted in this project is essential to operate and maintain the line in an efficient manner,” he said.
“This project will reduce the operational costs of freight movements by providing additional rail capacity, improved reliability and reduced transit times. They will also help to reduce derailments.”
Federal members for Bass, Lyons and Braddon, Andrew Nikolic, Eric Hutchinson and Brett Whiteley, respectively, joined Hidding on site in Longford to award the tender.
“VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd will be responsible for laying around 48,000 sleepers and 30 kilometres of rail, while maintaining timetabled rail traffic during construction,” Nikolic said.
Hutchinson said the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation project should improve the capacity and productivity of industries in Tasmania that rely on rail.
“In particular, ‘high tonnage’ industries will be better able to compete in international and interstate trade and commerce,” he detailed.
“This includes the cement and paper industries, where large volumes must be transported to port, almost continually.”
Whitely, meanwhile, focused on the economic dividends the rail upgrade would provide to the state.
“It’s not just about repairing old line,” he said, “it’s about ensuring the state’s infrastructure is capable of capitalising on future economic growth as a result of the three North-Asia free trade agreements signed by the Federal Government.”
Works are planned to start next month and should be done by mid-2017.