Full freight operations running on Main Western line

Freight operations have been restored to full capacity on New South Wales’ Main Western rail line thanks to fast-tracked repairs following a major landslip in the Blue Mountains.

The full opening comes a day ahead of schedule following the return of night-time freight operations, which resumed on Sunday. Since then, around 76 freight trains have transported essential supplies and raw materials over the mountains.

Regional Transport and Roads minister Sam Farraway said when extreme weather earlier this month caused a landslip between Blackheath and Mount Victoria, he made it a priority to get freight back running on the line as soon as possible.

“Thanks to the hard work of Sydney Trains, night-time freight operations were restored on the evening of July 24 and, since then, we have seen trains carrying coal, grain, bulk materials and general freight safely travelling the route,” he said.

“Once again, this vital rail line is connecting the Central West to our domestic and international markets.

“It is great news the Main Western line is back to 100 per cent freight capacity, including day-time operations from today, with passenger services scheduled to resume from tomorrow, Saturday 30 July.”

Paul Scurrah, chief executive of Pacific National, which runs more than 1800 freight services on the Main Western Line each year, welcomed the news.

“The Blue Mountains rail line is a vital link in the national supply chain connecting thousands of regional exporters and importers and primary producers to ports, processing plants, freight terminals and mills across the state,” he said.

“Each week, we haul more than 60,000 tonnes of goods and commodities on the Blue Mountains line, which is equivalent to taking about 1200 19-metre B-double trips off the state’s road network, notably the Great Western Highway, improving safety and reducing congestion and transport emissions.”

Sydney Trains crews, including workers from Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast, worked day and night for nearly four weeks to safely restore the line.

Embankment repairs required around 40,000 tonnes of gabion rock, which was sourced from quarries including near Kiama on the South Coast and Marangaroo and Oberon in the Central West.

Full schedule of services resume on Main Western Line

Services on the Main Western line have returned to full capacity after work crews completed repairs to line the line following bushfires and flooding.

Over 150,000 man hours have been put in since the Gospers Mountain Bushfires hit the railway in December. Flooding following heavy rains in February also washed away sections of track.

Some freight services and diesel-powered passenger services had resumed in mid-January, however due to the damage to signalling equipment and overhead powerlines, regular Intercity commuter services were cancelled.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said that the repairs had covered great lengths to get services back up and running.

“We know just what a vital transport link this line is for both passenger and freight services – and our crews have put in a superhuman effort to repair the devastation caused by the summer bushfires and flash flooding soon after,” said Toole.

“More than 200 employees worked to replace more than 50 kilometres of fibre optic cables and 37km of high voltage power lines damaged in the fires.”

Other equipment that had to be replaced included 75 power poles, a signal control hut, a substation, thousands of small pieces of safe working systems. The high-voltage power supply also had to be rebuilt and 540 trees removed from the corridor.

“It’s been a huge task but it’s great to know services on the Blue Mountains Line are now back on track – and ready to support essential travel for those returning to work and school and from June 1, those looking to enjoy a break in the bush,” said Toole. 

Acting chief executive of Sydney Trains Stewart Mills acknowledge the hard work of those who contributed to getting services back up and running.

“I’d like to thank every person who has worked so hard to rebuild, test and commission infrastructure critical to the safe operation of passenger and freight trains between Mount Victoria and Lithgow.”