One millionth concrete sleeper between Melbourne & Sydney marks resurgence in rail

The one millionth concrete rail sleeper between Sydney and Melbourne was unveiled in Gunning NSW today, marking a significant milestone in the $2.4 billion Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane concrete re-sleepering project

The Hon. Gary Gray, Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development joined Australian Rail Track Corporation CEO David Marchant to unveil the one millionth concrete sleeper laid by the Southern Improvement Alliance (SIA) which highlights the resurgence in freight rail in Australia.

David Marchant explained that ARTC had allocated some $400 million to replace wooden and steel sleepers on the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail corridor with around 2.2 million new concrete sleepers.

“Consistency in rail sleepers may not sound significant,” Mr Marchant said, “but it will mean a more reliable track and reduced transit times between the main eastern State demand centres.”

David Marchant said the unveiling of the one millionth concrete sleeper on the Sydney to Melbourne corridor showcased the upgrade of the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail line, which included new passing lanes and loops and signal upgrades.

“Along with the concrete re-sleepering project, the new passing loops, signal upgrades and track and bridge work on the North South corridor ushers in a whole new era of rail between Melbourne and Brisbane,” Mr Marchant said.

“Overall, this upgrade is perhaps the largest rail project since the rail corridor was originally laid,” he said.

“For ARTC it marks rail’s resurgence as a realistic freight option.”

“Once the re-sleepering, additional passing lanes, loops and signalling upgrades are completed, ARTC will be able to offer the freight industry transit times as low as 10 hours 40 minutes between Sydney and Melbourne and 15 hours 35 minutes between Sydney and Brisbane.”

“Rail will be more than competitive again and as each 1500 metre long train can replace 100 semi trailers we could see less trucks on our major roads,” Mr Marchant said.

Mr Marchant said that, overall, nearly 1,500 kilometres of new concrete sleepers would be laid along the main rail line between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as well as along the main coal export line up the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.  The project is scheduled for completion early in 2009.

“This program has been an economic boost to regional and rural Australia with new employment opportunities that have been created along with ARTC local purchases and equipment hire.”

“There have been real economic gains spread along the entire rail corridor.”

“We’re quite proud of what has been achieved so far, and there’s more to come,” Mr Marchant said.

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