Construction of the Parkes-Narromine section of the Inland Rail is getting closer, with regular delivery of concrete sleepers to Peak Hill underway from Braema, Mittagong, where 200,000 will eventually be produced.
Local business Rocla has the $20 million contract for the sleeper production.
Simon Thomas, Inland Rail’s programme delivery director, said the contract with the company – which has created 20 new jobs in the Southern Highlands region – was an example of how the $9 billion rail was providing opportunities for local companies.
“The 200,000 concrete sleepers required for the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail is the first of 1.5 million that will be required to build the full 1,700-kilometre length of the Inland Rail from Brisbane to Melbourne, opening a pipeline of further opportunities for Australian suppliers,” Thomas said.
“Inland Rail is a truly national project. The track between Parkes and Narromine will have Whyalla steel rail, Mittagong concrete sleepers and other material contracts from all over Australia will be announced shortly.”
Rocla’s general manager Bruce Nicholson said the company was “delighted” to be a key-supplier for the “nation-building” project.
“Our highly skilled team at Braema is keen to work on this contract and we look forward to offering additional job opportunities in the region,” Nicholson said.
Australasian Railway Association CEO Danny Broad said the progress on Inland Rail was “exciting news for the rail industry”.
Pacific National began transporting the first sleepers from Braema in May, and will run a train carrying 9,000 sleepers to the Parkes-Narromine rail alignment every week for the next six months.
“Pacific National is proud to be part of the construction of Inland Rail, providing a service where each freight train will haul around 2,500 tonnes of concrete sleepers 400 kilometres from Mittagong to Parkes,” Pacific National’s president of freight Andrew Adam said.
Adam said the whole 1,700-kilometre project, when completed, would be a “game changer” for the safe and efficient transportation of commodities from regional Australia to the major ports at Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
“When it comes to hauling bulk freight, rail is the safest, most efficient and environmentally-friendly mode of transport – to move 200,00 concrete sleepers by road would take a thousand B-double trucks,” Adam said.
The 106-kilometre Parkes to Narromine section is to utilise existing ARTC operated track. It will undergo extensive upgrades, including the replacement of bridges and culverts, enhanced level-crossings and three new crossing loops at Goonumbla, Peak Hill, and Timjelly. A new 5-kilometre long connection to the Broken Hill line west of Parkes is also to be constructed.