Federal infrastructure minister Darren Chester has reported the first 10,000 tonnes of rail track has been delivered for the Adelaide-Tarcoola rail upgrade.
Announced in March 2016, the rail manufacture contract is being delivered by the Whyalla steel refinery, owned by embattled mining and metals firm Arrium.
600 kilometres of the East-West railway is to be replaced, with Arrium delivering 60kg per metre steel, to upgrade the existing 47kg per metre rails.
The new rail should increase maximum axle weight on the line from 23 tonnes to 25 tonnes at 80km/h on the crucial stretch.
Chester this week noted the first 10,000 tonnes of track had been delivered to outback South-Australian locations, in preparation for laying down new track.
“The project will vastly improve freight transport for the region by enabling more efficient trains to operate on the route. This means greater productivity, with more goods delivered to markets quicker,” Chester said.
The Federal Government is providing the full $252 million in funding for the project.
“An estimated 60 workers are already employed on the project in Adelaide and Port Augusta and over the three-year life of the project up to 130 people will be employed to carry out this critical upgrade,” federal member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said during a site visit on March 9.
“This is demanding work.
“The Port Augusta teams are busy joining together 27.5m lengths of rail into 165m lengths using a flash butt welding process that heats the rail to 2000˚C.
“The delivery of the first 10,000 tonnes of rail is the result of six months of hard work with the team completing more than 6,000 of these welds, all of which were perfect.”
18 trains have been sent both north and south of Port Augusta over the last few months.
The new rails have been unloaded and placed between existing tracks.
Ramsey explained these rails will be connected using a field flash butt welder, before the lengths are laid and final joints are completed using more traditional welding methods.
“More than 175 kilometres of rail has been delivered to future installation sites where the upgrade will replace older rail with stronger steel, to support the faster and heavier trains,” Ramsey said.