ARTCs rail line upgrade cuts rail freight travel times

By: Jason Whittaker

Rail freight travel times have been slashed with the opening of a new passing loop as part of the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane

Rail freight travel times have been slashed with the opening of a new passing loop as part of the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail line upgrade by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

The 7km long loop at Yerong Creek in New South Wales means trains can now pass one another at regular speed. The new loop is expect travel times because trains can now enter and leave the passing loop at 80km per hour, doubling the previous speed of 40km per hour.

ARTC Chief Executive Officer David Marchant says the new loop "marks rail’s resurgence as a realistic freight option". He says the ARTC will build on its achievements by continuing to carry out more projects to boost efficiency.

"This passing lane is part of the north-south strategy to cut the transit time from Melbourne to Sydney to as low as 10 hours 40 minutes and 15 hours 35 minutes between Sydney and Brisbane," Marchant says.

Furthermore, the length of trains will increase to 1.8km, allowing more goods to be transported. According to Marchant, the loop means rail freight will be seen as a viable option for transporting goods.

Marchant says the mode will be more competitive with its road counterpart because it has the potential to drastically reduce the number of trucks needed to cart freight.

"Rail will be more than competitive again and as each 1500 metre long train can replace 100 semi trailers we could see less trucks on our major roads," he says.

"The Yerong Creek passing lane is the second of five passing lanes on the NSW side of the border, which allows trains to pass each other at speed rather than one standing idle in a siding while waiting for the train travelling in the opposite direction to pass."

Marchant says the loop is one of many upgrades to be carried out along the rail corridor. The construction of new concrete sleepers, passing lanes and signal upgrades is the biggest rail project since the track was laid, according to Marchant.

The upgrades are also having positive flow-on effects, such as employment opportunities.
"This program has been an economic boost to regional and rural Australia with new employment opportunities created, ARTC local purchases and equipment hire and the local production of concrete sleepers," Marchant says.

In addition, as part of the works, the public road level crossing at Yarragundry Street has been upgraded from flashing lights to boom barriers and the pedestrian crossing upgraded from a passively controlled pedestrian maze to the automatic swing gates. Both projects aim to increase the safety of motorists.

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