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.