Today another major milestone in the most extensive upgrade to the nation’s interstate rail network in almost a century has been reached, with work to straighten key sections of the main line between Newcastle and the Queensland border now underway.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, said the North Coast Curve Easing project will increase capacity and cut transit times along Australia’s eastern seaboard by almost one hour.
“Over the next 8 months, this project will reduce the severity of the curves at some 58 locations by realigning the existing track, improvements which once completed will allow trains to run at higher speeds,” said Mr Albanese.
“All up, we are investing $3.4 billion in the interstate rail network, the largest single Federal investment in this vital piece of infrastructure in generations. Indeed compared to our predecessors we’re investing twice as much in half the time.
“By the middle of 2014 we will have rebuilt more than a third of the network – or 3,771 kilometres of existing track – and extended its reach by a further 235 kilometres.
“A faster, safer and more reliable rail network is central to the Gillard Labor Government’s broader efforts to boost national productivity, take pressure of our highways and reduce Australia’s carbon footprint.”
The first sod on this $170 million project was turned at one of the sharper curves on the main North-South line near the NSW town of Casino.
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO, John Fullerton, explained that the curve easing program was a key aspect of the organisation’s strategy to reduce transit times, increase capacity and build reliability in the North South rail link.
“As a result of the work we’ve already completed on the North Coast line, our new timetables are revealing significant time saving improvements between the East Coast capitals. However there is more to be done,” said Mr Fullerton.
“Reducing the severity of the track curves on these specific sites on the North Coast line will lead to an increase in line capacity through a further reduction in transit times.
“Other benefits of the programme will be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a reduction in above and below rail maintenance costs and the overall improved competitiveness of rail freight.
“This is not only good news for the economy through the more efficient movement of freight, but also for the local community. With one 1500m train being equal to 100 semi-trailers, we will see fewer big trucks on our North Coast roads.”