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New sleepers cut rail travel time

Concrete rail sleepers installed along north-south corridor in an effort to increase productivity

Concrete rail sleepers have been installed along the north-south corridor in an effort to increase rail freight productivity.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has finished replacing 2.2 million wooden sleepers on the corridor as part of a $400 million project to upgrade rail infrastructure.

ARTC Chief Executive David Marchant says the new sleepers mean rail infrastructure will be protected against heat, which in the past imposed constraints on freight carriers.

Marchant says the ARTC had to enforce speed restrictions on numerous sections as the summer heat climbed to 40 degrees and buckled the steel rail.

“In the past, ARTC could issue temporary speed restrictions of 50 days every summer which significantly increased transit time between the major capitals,” Marchant says.

He says the steel sleepers increase the strength of rail infrastructure, preventing it from buckling.

The upgrade is part of a host of works on the corridor, which include new passing loops and signal upgrades.

Once complete, the ARTC claims the corridor will cut transit times to less than 11 hours between Sydney and Melbourne.

The government corporation also expects a Sydney to Brisbane trip will take less than 16 hours.

“Rail will be more than competitive again, and as each 1500 metre-long train can replace 100 semi trailers we could see less trucks on our major roads,” Marchant says.

The ARTC will upgrade almost 1500 kilometres of sleepers between Melbourne, Sydney and the Queensland.

The project, which also includes work along the coal export line in the Hunter Valley, is due to be completed early this year.

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