Largest project in NSW regional rail program completed

The largest project in the New South Wales Fixing Country Rail Program is officially complete.

Regional Transport and Roads minister Sam Farraway said 174 kilometres of rail between Junee and Griffith has been replaced, while a $11.7 million project is about to get under way near Coolamon to further reduce rail bottlenecks on the line.

“Fixing Country Rail is a $400 million program unlocking the economic potential of regional NSW,” he said.

“Our regional freight task in NSW is expected to increase by 17 per cent to 311 million tonnes by 2036, which is why improving our supply chain network, whether it be rail or roads, is so important.

“The Junee to Griffith upgrade allows heavier freight trains to use the track, and adds capacity for those trains to travel at higher speeds, making journeys more efficient for freight trains transporting goods and produce from farms in the Riverina across the state, Australia and overseas.”

The project to extend the Coolamon Siding will help alleviate bottlenecks and congestion on the single line track between Junee and Griffith, where currently there are limited opportunities for freight trains to load and unload off the main line.

“It will allow access for modern freight trains up to 1500 metres long to exit the main line, letting passenger and other freight services pass while the train is loading or unloading,” Farraway said.

“The Riverina is the largest agricultural producer in regional NSW, and this rail upgrade will increase bulk grain loading capability for freight trains.”

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the Coolamon project would support around 30 jobs during construction.

“The Riverina Murray region makes the largest regional contribution to agricultural production in NSW, accounting for almost 13 per cent of produce across the state,” she said.

“That is why our government has invested wisely to ensure our region’s biggest economic driver can become even more efficient, serving farming communities well into the future.”

Early work is due to start next month and the project is expected to be completed in 2023, weather permitting.

New grain siding complete in Coonamble South

A new rail siding in Coonamble South has been installed, ready for the 2020/21 grain season.

The siding, located in the Central West of NSW, would improve grain movements from the interior of the state, said Minister for Regional Roads and Transport Paul Toole.

“Previously the positioning of the old mainline grain loading point at Coonamble caused delays for trains for up to eight hours, creating congestion and holding up the movement of grain to port,” Toole said.

“The new rail siding will create an extra 450 hours each year where trains can pass through this section of track without being held up.

The new location will also help shift further freight onto rail.

“It will also see the three grain loading points in Coonamble better utilised and potentially encourage the transporting of grain off roads and onto rail, reducing the impacts of heavy vehicles on the road network,” said Toole.

The siding was built with a $2.5 million investment as part of the NSW government’s Fixing Country Rail program, which is funding $400m worth of upgrades to support, reinvigorate, and upgrade regional freight infrastructure.

Member of the NSW upper house Sam Farraway said the upgrades will boost productivity and confidence in rail.

“These upgrades have multiple flow-on effects, including more time to access the wider network and port, alleviating the pressure to find space on the rail network to meet shipping schedules,” he said.

The siding was announced as receiving funding in February 2019.


Mount Murray freight passing loop improvement construction begins

Work has begun on extending the Mount Murray loop in the NSW southern highlands to accommodate kilometre long trains.

The passing loop, located on the Moss Vale to Unanderra line, is being upgraded as part of the Fixing Country Rail program and received $7.5 million under the scheme in 2018.

Freight operators will benefit from the upgrade as it will enable more regional freight trains to access Port Kembla and improve connectivity between the port and regional exporters.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the upgrade provided a significant increase.

“The Mount Murray Loop Extension will see an increase in the length of trains from 41 to 62 wagons with three million tonnes of freight expected to pass through this section of track each year.”

Freight rail access to Port Kembla has been identified by Infrastructure Australia as a priority project. 60 per cent of freight to Port Kembla is brought by rail, however capacity is limited by passenger services on the Illawarra line. Additionally, improvements to container handling at Port Kembla and limits on truck movements will further increase the demand for freight rail services.

The NSW government has selected the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to deliver the 300 metre extension and the project is expected to be completed later in 2020, allowing for productivity improvements.

“The longer trains will enable a higher volume of grain and mineral ore per trip, which will increase productivity and improve competitiveness for producers in the region, opening up new markets,” said Toole.

Local member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman welcomed the impact that works would have on her electorate, with 140 jobs expected to be created by the extension.

“While the Mount Murray Loop Extension will increase efficiency along this section of railway line allowing for more cost-effective freight transport, particularly for the grain and mining industries, it is also supporting local jobs and businesses,” said Tuckerman.