$15 million rail upgrade to drive 20 per cent more capacity for SA, Vic and WA freight

Media Release

WT353/2015

02 November 2015

Joint release with:

John Fullerton

Australian Rail Track Corporation
Chief Executive Officer

Five passing loops across Victoria and South Australia are being extended by the Australian Government to allow for 1,800-metre trains to increase competitiveness and rail capacity between the eastern states and Western Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said with rail dominating the supply chain for Australia's east-west freight, today's investment will make interstate freight more efficient.

“Our $15 million loops extension project will cement rail's position as a reliable, cost effective and sustainable transport mode,” Mr Truss said.

“By facilitating longer 1,800-metre trains, we will enable an expected 20 per cent increase in capacity for each rail freight service at little additional cost to operators, ultimately, enhancing the competiveness of Australian businesses.

“Rail has around 80 per cent of the land transport market from east to west and many Australian businesses rely on this corridor to service substantial WA markets.

“Making rail more productive and competitive makes economic sense because reducing costs in the supply chain leads to cheaper goods on the store shelf for Australian consumers.”

A recent report by the Australian Logistics Council found that just a 1 per cent improvement in productivity in the logistics industry can boost national GDP by $2 billion.

The extended passing loops are at Mile End in South Australia and Pyrenees, Murtoa, Pimpinio and Diapur in Victoria, with construction works to start at Pyrenees later this week.

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) Chief Executive Officer John Fullerton said passing loops (also known as crossing loops) effectively duplicate a short section of track, to allow one train to hold while another passes in the opposite direction, before the train in the passing loop continues on its way.

“We already have a limited number of 1,800-metre trains operating in the Melbourne to Adelaide section each week, but these longer passing lanes –in conjunction with the Torrens Junction separation planned by the Australian and SA governments—will allow high productivity trains to run in both directions,” Mr Fullerton said.

“This project has been the result of careful analysis by ARTC in consultation with customers, as well as assessing the benefit of new Centralised Train Control (CTC) signalling which has been successfully implemented between Port Augusta and Tarcoola in South Australia.

“With market demand shifting, the extended passing loops directly responds to customer feedback and will provide greater economic value and additional capacity for our Interstate operations.”

The project is expected to be completed by mid-2016.