New concrete railway sleepers are now rolling out of Geelong thanks to the Rudd Labor Government’s $1.2 billion investment in the interstate rail network.
Austrak’s Geelong factory has in recent weeks started producing new dual gauge concrete sleepers – and as result of the Government’s unprecedented investment will continue to operate at full capacity until November. The factory employs 50 locals.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the new sleepers will replace the old wooden sleepers along the Victorian section of the interstate network between Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane, greatly reducing the likelihood of the track buckling during hot weather.
“The new sleepers will create a faster, more reliable rail system,” said Mr Albanese.
“I’m particularly pleased the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has partnered with a local company to deliver our massive investment program – a partnership that’s protecting local jobs and delivering a boost to the Geelong economy.
“The upgrade of the vital line between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane is perhaps the biggest rail project to be undertaken in Australia since this rail corridor was originally laid.”
ARTC Chief Executive David Marchant said the new concrete sleepers will be used to upgrade the Victorian standard gauge rail network as part of a lease agreement signed during 2008.
“The original Interstate Infrastructure Lease between ARTC and the Victorian Government for the standard gauge rail network was due to expire in 2014. The new agreement will extend the lease by 45 years to 2059,” said Mr Marchant.
“The length of this lease will allow sufficient time for ARTC to plan and implement practical, long term infrastructure improvements to the rail network in Victoria.
“Specifically, the agreement will involve converting the North East broad gauge line between Seymour and Albury to standard gauge and the partial conversion of the Albion to Jacana line to dual gauge.
“Austrak Geelong will play an integral part in these upgrades.”
Austrak General Manager David Priddle said the Australian Government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan is a boost to their operations.
“The investment being made by the Australian Government will allow Austrak to fully utilise our Geelong factory,” said Mr Priddle.
“The Government’s announcement of further projects will also mean a boost to employment in Geelong – not only through our operations, but also the trickle down affect to many of our suppliers. This sort of knock-on employment is vital in regional areas.”
Local Federal MP Darren Cheeseman said the project was crucial in maintaining job security for this area of the local Geelong workforce.
“As well as rail efficiencies, this project is creating employment for people in this industry. This funding has provided some real job security for local families,” said Mr Cheeseman.
“Every job we can keep in Geelong in this current economic climate is a real plus.”
Jeff Singleton ( Mr Albanese’s Office ) 0410 476 890