As part of the largest modernisation of the Interstate Rail Network in generations, the upgrade of the ballast and drainage systems along the main North South rail line connecting Sydney to Melbourne has been accelerated.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the $134 million Ballast Rehabilitation Program is now underway, with the majority of the work expected to be completed within 18 months.
“The added urgency has been brought about by the adverse impact the change in weather since mid 2010 has had on the line, with the region now experiencing well-above average rainfall after almost a decade of drought,” said Mr Albanese.
“Ensuring the safety and reliability of the network is essential to making rail a competitive alternative for the transportation of freight—and for that reason the Government supports the action now being taken by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
“All up, the Gillard Labor Government is rebuilding more than a third of the Interstate Rail Network—or some 3,800 kilometres of track—as part of our broader efforts to lift national productivity, curb harmful carbon emissions and take pressure off our highways.”
ARTC CEO John Fullerton said the work to be undertaken will upgrade the ballast which supports the sleepers and provides drainage, with the funding coming from the re-scoping of the existing North Coast Curve Easing Program, savings realised on some recently completed upgrades and the ARTC itself.
“The accelerated program of work will mean our customers will benefit sooner from the substantial investment we’ve made in the corridor from Brisbane and Melbourne, all part of our mission to build a safe, reliable and modern freight rail service,” said Mr Fullerton.”
“Whilst the North Coast Curve Easing Program is important and will continue, the immediate priority is to bring the remaining sections of the Sydney to Melbourne line up to a standard consistent with the rest of the interstate rail network.”