IN THE first year of its inception, TasRail has committed $33 million from an allocation of $119.6m federal and Tasmanian government money for the planned Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Program.
Tasmanian Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding told Parliament the program was expected to run until 30 June 2019.
“It is enabling TasRail to achieve further improvements in the safety and reliability of the track which, in turn, is helping the company achieve steady growth in rail freight volumes,” Mr Hidding said.
“The investment confirms this government’s commitment to the future of freight rail in Tasmania and reinforces our vision to deliver a more competitive freight market for Tasmanian business and industry and, consequently, lower freight prices.”
He said TasRail had awarded a contract for the upgrade of 10 priority level crossings at Burnie and the on the Melba line to Tasmanian company Gradco in partnership with New Group.
“This project is valued at around $2.6m, including materials, services and project administration costs,” Mr Hidding said.
“These level crossing works will see the road-rail interface at the crossings upgraded with new rail and sleepers as well as resurfacing. The 10 priority level crossings are located at Highclere, Ridgley, South Burnie and Burnie.”
Work was expected to be completed in January, he said.
It was one of nine tenders which had been awarded under the program.
“TasRail’s approach to progressively release works tenders ensures a
more even distribution of work for the civil construction industry and
assists with workplace planning and skills development,” Mr Hidding said.
“A number of early works packages have already been completed, including the rehabilitation of two culverts on the Bell Bay line, a quick-start works package and the upgrade of a number of level crossings.”
TasRail was also implementing government buy-local guidelines, with Ulverstone-based VEC Civil Engineering, Digga and Gradco upskilling existing employees, hiring new staff and entering partnerships with mainland companies with specific rail expertise.
Tasmanian company Stornaway has been awarded a five-year contract with TasRail for the periodic supply, delivery and loading of ballast trains to support track upgrade and maintenance activities.
– ANDREW ROSE
More Waratah train sets ordered for NSW
THE New South Wales State Government will spend $1.5 billion in coming years to purchase an extra 24 new Chinese-built eight-car Waratah double-deck trains and undertake major signalling, platform and track upgrades.
Announcing the initiative early in December, Transport Minister Andrew Constance said he was expecting a 21 per cent growth in the number of train commuters in the next five years, with much of that growth coming from Sydney’s western suburbs.
“We will be able to deliver more express services from Parramatta to the Sydney CBD, where we’ll have an express service every three minutes during the morning and afternoon peak.”
Mr Constance said NSW was experiencing unprecedented demand from train customers. He said he expected the new trains to be running by late 2018.