$44 million upgrade for Narrabri to Turrawan Line

The Australian Government today announced $44.7 million for the Australian Rail Track Corporation to upgrade 35 kilometres of the Narrabri to Turrawan Line between the Hunter Valley Coal Network and Inland Rail.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would significantly enhance the quality and capacity of the critical rail connection, providing a better and more consistent service between northern New South Wales, the Inland Rail project and the Port of Newcastle.

“Narrabri to Turrawan is an essential link along this network and this upgrade will allow longer and heavier freight trains travelling from Northern NSW – transporting grain and cotton – to access the Newcastle and Sydney Ports,” Mr McCormack said.

“This upgrade will allow greater volumes of freight moved on each train reducing transport costs and enhancing competitiveness for Australian exports.

“We’ll achieve this by replacing the existing steel and timber sleepers with heavy-duty concrete ones, delivering vital level crossing upgrades and improving the rail quality on the Narrabri Coal Junction to Turrawan, as well as the Turrawan to Narrabri North section.

“Our strong investments in region-defining rail projects like this are all about getting our farmers’ world‑leading food and fibre to market.

“We also know that every single job we continue to create at the back end of this unprecedentedly challenging year makes a world of difference to that person, their family and the entire community, which is why I am thrilled to announce this new upgrade project.

“Our message this year to Australians is clear – we are focused on creating jobs, backing businesses and driving our nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to get funding flowing and shovels in the ground on road and rail projects under our record $110 billion infrastructure plan.”

Mr McCormack said COVID-19 had demonstrated the essential work of Australia’s freight industry and supply chains to the national economy and to the day-to-day lives of all Australians.

“Improving connectivity to a nation-first project like Inland Rail is absolutely game-changing for the region, allowing for more efficient supply chain movements to bolster the local economy well into the future,” Mr McCormack said.

“Investing in the rail backbone of our supply chains also acts as catalysts for further economic growth by delivering the confidence producers and businesses need to expand and diversify, creating jobs and encouraging local investment to provide an ongoing boost to local communities and the economy.”

Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government and Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton said the project will provide a welcome productivity boost for the region’s supply chain, at a time when local industries are going from strength to strength.

Minister Coulton is today touring the Port of Newcastle to inspect the coal handling facility and the agri-terminal, where much of the produce from the Parkes electorate will leave Australia this season.

“The 35-kilometre upgrade of the Narrabri to Turrawan Line is welcome news for the local farming community and other businesses using the rail line to get their products to market, with the new load specifications directly compatible with Inland Rail,” Minister Coulton said.

Minister Coulton said the upgrade would maximise the benefits from Inland Rail for the region, particularly businesses relying on the Hunter Valley Coal Network and Newcastle and Sydney ports.

“This will mean trains currently unable to travel on this section between northern NSW and Newcastle port will soon be able to traverse the track, allowing greater freight volumes to travel to Newcastle and Sydney ports – where the majority of grain and cotton from this region is exported.

“We are seeing decades of planning and investment by the Australian Government coming together to support regional economies, including those in the Parkes electorate, and create the environment for our communities to grow and prosper well into the future.”

Minister Coulton said the project will deliver an improved corridor capable of 25 Tonne Axle Load (TAL) trains going at 80 km/h to replace the current ageing, 20.5 TAL track.

Media contacts:

Deputy Prime Minister – Jo Williamson 0418 475 668 | Dean Shachar 0418 202 860 

Minister Coulton – Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920