The unprecedented modernisation of the interstate rail network continues unabated with the significant upgrade of the 201 kilometre Cootamundra to Parkes section starting this week.
The $91.5 million project – funded under the Rudd Labor Government’s Economic Stimulus Plan – will replace worn track as well as all the existing timber sleepers with 301,000 new concrete sleepers.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, congratulated the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) for moving so quickly to put the Government’s economic stimulus funding to work creating jobs and upgrading the nation’s rail infrastructure.
“As well as supporting jobs and businesses during the current global recession, our economic stimulus package is building the modern rail infrastructure vital to Australia’s long term prosperity,” said Mr Albanese.
“The Rudd Labor Government will invest more in rail over the next 12 months than our predecessors did during their 12 years in office.”
Up until now the line between Cootamundra and Parkes – originally laid as a secondary line – has never been upgraded to interstate standard. The result being that it could only carry trains operating under strict weight and speed restrictions.
ARTC CEO David Marchant explained the upgrade of the line between Cootamundra and Parkes would improve the overall efficiency on the interstate network.
“Concrete sleepers in themselves may not sound significant. But they will greatly improve the track’s capacity and reduced transit times,” said Mr Marchant.
“Their use will also reduce the need for temporary speed restrictions in the summer months. Whereas wooden sleepers tend to buckle on extremely hot days, concrete sleepers hold the rail firmly in place.
“The upgrade is good news for the wider community as well. Not only will in create jobs and provide an immediate boost to the local economy, it will also allow more freight to be transported by rail – which overtime will lead to fewer trucks on our roads.”
One 1,500-metre train can replace around 100 trucks.
The project will directly support up to 120 jobs, take five months to complete and use sleepers being produced by Austrak’s Wagga Wagga factory.
For more information about the Government’s Economic Stimulus Package go to: www.economicstimulusplan.gov.au.
Jeff Singleton ( Mr Albanese’s Office ) 0410 476 890
Brad Emery ( ARTC ) 0419 297 004