The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has opened 83 kilometres of upgraded Inland Rail track between Moree and Narrabri in New South Wales, with the first grain train set to run in the coming days.
The commissioning of the upgraded Inland Rail track between Moree and Narrabri comes after delays due to extensive and prolonged inclement weather across the state, which pushed the date from the target date of October 31.
Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said the opening of the upgraded Inland Rail track marked a major milestone for the national freight network.
“Australia’s supply chains rely on a safe, reliable and efficient transport network to move approximately four billion tonnes of goods across the country each year,” she said.
Connecting Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, the 1,700 kilometre Inland Rail project is upgrading 1,100 kilometres of existing rail line and building 600 kilometres of new track. The project is being delivered in 13 sections across 36 local government areas, including one project in Victoria, seven in New South Wales, and five in Queensland.
ARTC, together with the Inland Rail construction team and partners, has been working to have the line complete in time for the commencement of the grain harvest season.
ARTC Inland Rail carried out works to construct new embankments, bridges and drainage culverts, replaced existing sleepers with concrete sleepers and laid new ballast and steel tracks.
Bulk earthworks to rebuild the track foundation were also completed to boost the flood immunity of the rail line, which proved resilient during recent inclement weather in the region.
In addition, safety has been enhanced at 57 level crossings along the alignment to achieve compliance with current Australian and ARTC standards.
A further ten level crossings have been upgraded from passive to active controls – meaning they now have boom barriers, bells and flashing lights.
All crossings now have bigger and brighter signage, upgraded road approaches and new rubber crossing panels, which reduce the time it takes for a vehicle to traverse the level crossing.
Inland Rail Narrabri to North Star project director Peter Borrelli said the project had supported work for more than 1,930 people including 623 local residents.
“Local businesses are also benefiting from the more than $196 million spent on supplies and services supporting the build – including some 12 Indigenous businesses across Australia who have shared in $15.2 million invested to deliver Inland Rail in central west NSW,” he said.
With the line between Narrabri and Moree now open, activity on the Narrabri to North Star section of Inland Rail will focus on the completion of the final works north of Camurra, which is expected in the coming months.