This week marks a major milestone for New South Wales’ regional rail network as UGL Regional Linx (UGLRL) begins its 10-year tenure as the custodians of Country Regional Network’s (CRN’s) 5500 kilometres of railway infrastructure.
UGLRL won a $1.5 billion contract with Transport NSW early last year, allowing the company to take over the operation and maintenance of the rail assets, which link broad areas of regional NSW to interstate and metropolitan rail systems.
The firm, a branch of asset management company UGL which is owned by international firm CIMIC Group, takes over from John Holland, which held to the rail maintenance contract for the previous 10 years.
The CRN covers 27,000 hectares of land and infrastructure, including 1200 property assets and almost 1000 bridges.
NSW’s Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the $1.5 billion contract represented a significant investment by the NSW Government in rail infrastructure to keep rail moving across the CRN.
“The CRN is the backbone of our regional rail network for both passenger and freight services and plays a critical role in moving grain to the silo and port,” he said.
“We have worked closely with UGLRL to ensure that not only will operational performance measures be hit but we also consider the positive impact of increased regional employment in our communities.
“At least 80 per cent of jobs must be regionally based and we have set an industry-leading target of 12 per cent for the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
“Under John Holland’s management, more than 1,300,000 old timber sleepers were replaced, more than 3220 kilometres of track was resurfaced, 844,000 tonnes of ballast installed, 26 road over rail bridges renewed and 69 level crossings were upgraded.
“I look forward to UGLRL continuing this great work as they take over the operation and maintenance of the CRN including rail lines, bridges and level crossings.”
UGLRL CEO John Pistak said he was looking forward to a new era for the CRN.
“The CRN is a crucial link between rural, regional and metropolitan communities, and we are ready to roll out our significant skills to operate and maintain it,” he said.
CEO Country Regional Network at John Holland Rail Matt Jones said the company was proud to have operated and maintained the CRN over the past decade.
“John Holland has transformed the CRN over the past decade, introducing new technology, network-wide upgrades and enhancements, delivering significant safety, reliability and operational improvements for rail customers and regional communities,” he said.
The CRN includes the regional rail lines that connect to the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s national network and the Sydney Trains network.
It comprises more than 2400 kilometres of operational rail lines, more than 3100 kilometres of non-operational lines, and hundreds of bridges and property assets such as stations.