Safety in focus for Hunter Valley Coal Rail Network four-day shutdown.  


  • Maintenance work on level crossings will take place throughout ARTC’s rail network in the Hunter Valley next week from Newcastle to Ulan and Turrawan 
  • The four-day shutdown is required for maintenance personnel to gain safe access to the track, delivering projects to ensure a safe, reliable network.
  • Rail Safety Week recently focused on the importance of safe behaviours along the rail corridor – particularly at level crossings – to ensure a safe network for our people and the communities in which we operate. 

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will carry out a major maintenance shutdown on the Hunter Valley Coal Network from Newcastle to Ulan and Turrawan.

From 22-25 September, approximately 1000 workers will conduct over 500 separate maintenance jobs including:

  • Upgrading over 3500 metres of track formation
  • Replacing 13,200 metres of rail
  • Scheduled maintenance activities
  • Tamping 34 level crossings

ARTC General Executive Hunter Valley Network Wayne Johnson said both private and public level crossings maintenance will be carried out by ARTC to ensure a safe and reliable network throughout the Hunter.

“In the upcoming rail shutdown, in addition to our regular maintenance work, level crossings will be getting some special attention with tamping being carried out on 34 level crossings,” said Mr Johnson.

“A tamping machine is used to pack (or tamp) the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks more durable. The base of the level crossing is replaced and stabilised to improve the geometry of the track and this also helps improve the surface so vehicles will experience a smoother ride as a result,” he said.

“Tamping the levels crossings allows safer access across the railway crossings for vehicle traffic.”

Mr Johnson said level crossings were the focus of a recent Rail Safety Week campaign, as they can present a real danger if people don’t practice safe behaviours.

“Motorists should take extra care at level crossings and always expect a train – even if bells or lights are not in operation, motorists need to slow down and look both ways before crossing,” he said/

“There are more than 23,500 level crossings in Australia – 21% are active, that’s the ones with boom gates and flashing lights and 79% of them are passive with a Stop or Give Way sign.

“Tragically, every year too many people lose their lives in level crossing collisions, while there are more than 1,000 ‘near misses’ each year – the difference between a fatal collision and a near collision can be just seconds.

“With a bumper grain season ahead, we can expect high volumes of freight trains coming from the central areas of the state, so people need to be vigilant with level crossings in the regional parts of New South Wales.

“That’s why it’s so important that we continue to educate our communities that trains always have the right of way and simply cannot stop quickly, it can take a freight train up to 2km to stop after applying its emergency brakes.

“The message is simple for level crossing – Stop, Look, Listen and Think.”

Public level crossings closed during the maintenance shutdown will have Traffic Management Plans in place with VMS boards notifying the community, while traffic control will be in place during the maintenance work to guide traffic around closures.

The on-track shutdown maintenance work will generally start at 6.30am on Tuesday, September 22 and is expected to be completed about 6.30am on Friday September 25.

“We thank our customers, community and motorists across the network for their patience while we carry out this important planned maintenance program,” Mr Johnson said

The passenger rail network will be temporarily closed on Tuesday and Wednesday evening outside of peak hours but alternative bus services will be provided for impacted passenger services, and details and schedules can be found at the Transport NSW website.

The next major maintenance shutdown is scheduled from November 17-20, 2020.  For further details

Media contact: 
ARTC media team 1300 196 401

Link to images and footage of level crossing tamping work on the Hunter Valley network:

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