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Track to re-awakenas new sleepers laid

Tuesday, 25th January, 2011

Work on the most extensive upgrade of the rail line to Parkes since it first opened in 1927 will start on Thursday.

More than one million new concrete sleepers will be used to rebuild the 691 kilometre line between Broken Hill and Parkes, replacing the old timber and steel sleepers.

The $253 million project, part of the federal government's $3.4 billion capital works program, is expected to take 15 months to complete.

ARTC CEO David Marchant said the upgrade was part of ongoing efforts to improve the reliability and efficiency of the Whyalla-Sydney and Sydney-Melbourne corridors.

"The project will enable increased train axle loads from 25 tonnes at 80km/h or 23 tonnes at 100km/h, reduce maintenance and train operating costs, cut transit times and eliminate the need for temporary speed restrictions during the hotter summer months," Mr Marchant said.

He said the work would involve a team of about 100 workers and a mobile plant spread over an 8km stretch of track on a daily basis, progressively installing the new sleepers.

Some 200,000 new concrete sleepers have already been delivered and have been stored in stacks along the rail corridor.

Mr Marchant said the project had not only generated jobs and provided a boost to the local economy, but the new track would also allow more freight to be transported by rail.

Other improvements to be undertaken as part of this multi-million upgrade include new turnouts, safer level crossings, improved drainage, and upgraded bridges and culverts.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said material for the upgrade was being sourced from factories in Wagga Wagga, Grafton and Braemar.

"All up, we're modernising more than a third of the nation's interstate rail network - the most extensive upgrade since the Fisher Labor Government built the transcontinental railway almost a century ago," he said.

"The modernisation of the interstate rail network is central to our broader efforts to lift national productivity, curb harmful carbon emissions and take the pressure off the nation's highways."

He said in the years ahead the demand for the transport of goods on this section of the network is expected to rise exponentially.

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