THE Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has opened 83 kilometres of upgraded Inland Rail track between Moree and Narrabri, with the first grain train set to run in the coming days.
With trains now running on this section of track for the first time in seven months, ARTC is urging people travelling on roads between Narrabri and Moree to take extra care near the rail line, and at all level crossings.
It can take a fully loaded freight train up to 1km to stop after the emergency brakes have been applied, so it is essential that drivers pay careful attention at level crossings.
The good news for motorists and pedestrians is that the upgraded track includes a range of new safety features.
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 10 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.
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.
“Australia’s supply chains rely on a safe, reliable and efficient transport network to move approximately 4 billion tonnes of goods across the country each year,” Federal Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said.
“The opening of the upgraded Inland Rail track between Moree and Narrabri marks a major milestone in delivering a more efficient and connected national freight network.
“Farmers in North West New South Wales gearing up for another busy harvest year will benefit from 83km of new track on the Narrabri to North Star section of Inland Rail which will support the movement of grain to export ports on Australia’s east coast.”
Inland Rail Narrabri to North Star project director Peter Borrelli said Inland Rail’s construction between Narrabri and North Star has seen approximately 281,554 sleepers laid, 4776 culverts installed, seven new bridge structures built and 168.5km of track installed.
“This national infrastructure project has supported work for more than 1930 people including 623 local residents,” Mr Borelli said.
“ARTC Inland Rail has worked very hard to have the line complete in time for the commencement of grain harvest season, and to ensure minimal interference with farming operations.”