28 February 2022

Wagga to provide the backbone for Australia's biggest railway in new deal

| James Coleman
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Inland Rail

Rows upon rows of concrete sleepers waiting to be installed. Photo: Inland Rail.

A Wagga facility is set to provide much of the backbone to Australia’s largest railway scheme after signing a contract to provide more than a million concrete sleepers for the Inland Rail project.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has signed contracts worth $143 million with Austrak, based in Wagga and one of Australia’s largest manufacturers of railway sleepers.

The 1.3 million sleepers under the new contract will be used to upgrade existing track and complete new sections of rail from Albury through to the Inland Rail end point in Queensland, while also supporting up to 36 jobs in Wagga.

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ARTC Inland Rail Interim CEO Rebecca Pickering said the contract was a concrete commitment to Inland Rail’s delivery, which will be a catalyst for regional employment and economic opportunity.

“Inland Rail is a game-changer for regional Australia. It will transform how we move goods around Australia, better link businesses to markets and generate new opportunities for industries and regions,” Mrs Pickering said.

So far, the project has already signed more than 700 contracts with businesses in both Queensland and New South Wales, with a committed value of $2.3 billion across the two states.

Inland Rail

There is 733 km of new track to be built and 994 km of existing track to be upgraded. Photo: Inland Rail.

Mrs Pickering said the latest agreement with Austrak will create work for about 50 people at the peak of the project.

“We have already had around 225,000 sleepers delivered from Austrak for the Narromine to North Star project currently under construction and it’s great to have them on board for the remaining projects of Inland Rail.”

Once complete, the Inland Rail (also known as Inland Railway) will connect the ports of Melbourne and Brisbane along a new route west of the Great Dividing Range, bypassing the busy Sydney metropolitan area and allowing for the use of double-stacked freight trains. The route will also connect to the Sydney to Perth rail corridor, reducing journey times between Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Construction of the line is divided into 13 projects with 733 kilometres of new track to be built and 994 kilometres of existing track to be upgraded.

READ ALSO Inland Rail project a concern for level crossing safety campaigner

Managing Director for Austrak Murray Adams said the company is delighted to be selected for a contract in the important nation-building project.

“This contract win means a great deal to our local communities in Rockhampton where we employ over 60 people, and in Wagga where we will employ 36 people while supporting the delivery of Inland Rail,” Mr Adams said.

“It’s our biggest ever contract and recognises the capabilities of the whole Austrak team who continually produce high-quality sleepers that meet the increasing demands of our customers and underpin the increasing importance that rail will play into the future.”

Inland Rail

Concrete sleepers being laid. Photo: Inland Rail.

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack commended Austrak on its role in building the Inland Rail, creating many local jobs and boosting the Wagga economy.

“This is proof the Inland Rail is supporting local economies not only along its 1700-kilometre corridor of commerce – but right across the country and particularly in our regions – now and into the future,” Mr McCormack said.

“These 36 jobs being supported in Wagga Wagga show that this significant project is directly supporting the Wagga Wagga economy. Without this contract, Austrak tells me they would have to shut this facility. That’s what this work means to them.”

All up, the $143 million agreement between the ARTC and Austrak will see the delivery of 695,000 standard gauge sleepers for projects in New South Wales and 615,000 dual gauge for projects in Queensland.

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