The Queensland government will invest $8.8 million in the third stage of a program to replace, repair and upgrade declining timber rail bridges along the Central West line.

Queensland Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe said tenders for the project were released in August to replace up to 18 bridges and 69 bridge piers with more durable structures to increase reliability of the line.

Mr Hinchliffe said, “The Palaszczuk Government is committed to upgrading rail infrastructure across regional Queensland to continue to provide a safe and reliable network. Investing in our state’s rail network is critical to jobs and our state’s economy.

“Some of these timber bridges are more than 100 years of age and they have passed their design life and are in need of replacement or upgrade.

“By replacing or upgrading the bridges with steel and concrete structures, we will not only improve their reliability but also minimise the time and cost spent on maintenance.”

Queensland Minister for Agriculture Leanne Donaldson said the project, which was expected to be completed by June 2018, was part of an ongoing initiative to improve rail bridges in the Central West region and would support the state’s economy and industries like the agriculture sector.

Ms Donaldson said, “In 2013, we embarked on stage one of the Central West Bridge Replacement program, which saw 49 timber bridges either replaced or repaired.

“Stage two, which was completed last year, saw a further 23 bridges replaced or upgraded between Clermont, Emerald and Winton.”

Ms Donaldson said after stage three was completed, the State Government would have invested more than $47 million in upgrades to Central West line bridges.

Ms Donaldson said, “Each year approximately 600 trains travel on the Central West line, including both passenger and freight services, which also support the local tourism economy and agriculture and resource sectors.

“The upgrade works will ensure that we continue to support these industries with a reliable rail network for years to come.”

Tenders for the project close on 12 September 2016.

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