Turnouts in focus for Hunter Valley Rail Network three-day shutdown


  • Maintenance work will take place throughout ARTC’s rail network in the Hunter Valley next week from Newcastle to Ulan and Turrawan  
  • The three-day shutdown is required for maintenance personnel to gain safe access to the track, delivering projects to ensure a safe, reliable network
  • Maintenance work on turnouts will allow trains to travel the network at higher speeds more reliably and more safely

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 17-20 November, approximately 1200 workers will conduct over 600 separate maintenance tasks including:

  • Upgrading of 1650 metres of track formation
  • Replacing 12,900 metres of rail
  • Major component replacements on five turnouts
  • 38 undercutting sites
  • Track defect removals
  • Scheduled maintenance activities.

ARTC Group Executive Hunter Valley Network, Wayne Johnson, said work on the turnouts was a very important part of maintenance being carried out by ARTC to ensure a safe and reliable network throughout the Hunter.

“Turnouts are a vital part of rail track infrastructure – it’s a section of the rail track controlled with an electric motor that allows trains to switch between different tracks,” said Mr Johnson.

“Fun fact: turnouts have been part of rail infrastructure since the 18th century when they were used in the first mine railways in England,”

During the upcoming shutdown, the maintenance work will include a complete turnout renewal and a turnout component upgrade at Kooragang Island and replacement of the timber sleepers with concrete ones.

“It’s a big job and will involve replacing the existing turnout, reconditioning of the rail formation and upgrades of the signalling system to operate the new turnout,” Mr Johnson said.

“That’s important because they will allow trains to travel the network at higher speeds more reliably and more safely.”

“This turnout directs trains to the different coal unloading stations at the port, so we want to ensure we’re making that as efficient as we can for our customers.”

The on-track shutdown maintenance work across the Hunter Valley will generally start at 6.30am on Tuesday, November 17 and is expected to be completed about 6.30am on Friday November 20.

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

“As part of the maintenance shutdown, ARTC will also continue its work replacing three rail bridges in Muswellbrook, which will include construction of the bridge foundations for the new bridge over Bridge Street.”

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 for February 2021. For further details www.artc.com.au/community/track-work/


Media contact: ARTC media team 1300 196 401

Note: Images of turnouts work on the Hunter Valley network can be found HERE.

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