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  A typical cross-section of the track structure, including the ballast, capping and structural fill materials required for the Inland Rail project.
A typical cross-section of the track structure, including the ballast, capping and structural fill materials required for the Inland Rail project.

Ambitious rail project could create new opportunities

The Inland Rail project – which takes in Toowoomba and the Darling Downs – could change the way quarries in eastern Australia transport their aggregates.

The Inland Rail project is a 1700km freight rail line that will run from Melbourne to Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. It will utilise about 1200km of existing rail corridors and require 500km of new tracks.

When the work is completed in 2024-25, the rail line will enable the delivery of freight between Melbourne and Brisbane within 24 hours. The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will oversee this multi-billion dollar project in partnership with the private sector.

Ahead of his presentation with colleague Tim Ryan, Inland Rail’s construction readiness manager Nick McCormack discusses this ambitious project.

What do you do at Inland Rail?

I am responsible for ensuring we are ready to start construction prior to the award of the civil contracts. This includes the sourcing of all materials, including quarry products, pre-cast materials, water sources etc as well as looking at project support such as accommodation and construction compounds.

Quarries along the east coast will be able to tender for contracts to supply aggregates to the project. How many quarries does the? ARTC anticipate could become involved?

We would expect there will be several quarries required to supply ballast, roadbase and other rock products to each of the projects within the Inland Rail program.

The ARTC estimates Inland Rail could use almost 3.5 million tonnes (mt) of ballast and 3.8mt of capping. Is the ARTC confident that all the materials can be sourced from quarries within eastern Australia?

The ARTC is confident all the quarry materials will be supplied from within the three states where Inland Rail is being constructed. Where the quantities are estimated to be larger than what existing quarries can supply, new sources within the vicinity of the projects may be investigated.

Has the ARTC had discussions with prospective quarry tenders, eg Boral, Hanson, Holcim, Adelaide Brighton, etc?

ARTC has had high level discussions with several quarry operators within the vicinity of the projects to assess their potential to supply the projects.

Will the project consider bids from small, medium and family-run enterprises?

The ARTC will consider all quarry operators that can meet the project material specifications and supply to the project schedules.

How will the Gowrie to Kagaru route benefit Toowoomba and surrounding regions?

In the May 2017 budget, the Federal Government announced that a 126km section of the Inland Rail project will be delivered via a public private partnership – the Gowrie to Kagaru PPP. The Gowrie to Kagaru section of the Inland Rail project comprises some technically complex parts of the overall program, including a 6.4km tunnel down the Toowoomba Range, together with two other tunnels in the Little Liverpool and Teviot ranges.

The participation of the private sector will provide further innovation and expertise, not only in design but also in construction methodologies. ARTC is currently undertaking the planning associated with the Gowrie to Kagaru PPP and anticipates formally going to the market in early 2018.

In addition to rail ballast, capping material, drainage blanket and armoured rock products, Inland Rail may also require concrete aggregates, gabion rock, structural fill, select fill and bedding sand. For what applications would those products be used?

The other quarry products will be required in smaller quantities to construct elements of the rail embankment and drainage design. The concrete aggregates and sand would also be used in the production of concrete required for structural items such as bridges and culverts.

Given the quantities of materials required to 2024-25, some quarries may have to apply to local councils for consent to expand their operating footprints. Would the ARTC provide a reference for a quarry contractor that seeks to expand its operations?

ARTC would consider providing a reference where a shortage of material was identified but could not provide any certainty of supply until going through the tendering process.

Once the line is completed, could quarries use Inland Rail to transport aggregate?

Inland Rail will provide a continuous freight rail line between Melbourne and Brisbane that can be used to cart all types of materials to wherever they are required along the line. This will provide quarries with opportunities to supply materials to locations along the line that may not have previously been economical by road.

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Thursday, 17 October, 2019 2:45pm
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