The east-west Adelaide-Tarcoola railway upgrade has begun, with the first 10,000 tonnes of rail track delivered to outback South-Australian locations to prepare for the $252 million project.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, said the multi-million dollar upgrade meant the 720km stretch of rail could handle heavier and faster trains.

“The project will vastly improve freight transport for the region by enabling more efficient trains to operate on the route. This means greater productivity, with more goods delivered to markets quicker,” Mr Chester said.

Federal Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, said, “The government is providing the full $252 million cost of the project, and by fast tracking it, we are helping create local jobs sooner.

“An estimated 60 workers are already employed on the project in Adelaide and Port Augusta and over the three-year life of the project up to 130 people will be employed to carry out this critical upgrade.

“This is demanding work—the Port Augusta teams are busy joining together 27.5m lengths of rail into 165m lengths using a flash butt welding process that heats the rail to 2000ºC. The delivery of the first 10,000 tonnes of rail is the result of six months of hard work with the team completing more than 6,000 of these welds, all of which were perfect.

Mr Ramsey said over the past months 18 train loads of rail had been sent both north and south of Port Augusta where the rails had been unloaded and stored between the tracks.

“The next stage of the works will see these rails connected to make longer lengths using a field flash butt welder, before the lengths are laid and final joints completed using more traditional welding methods.

“More than 175km of rail has been delivered to future installation sites where the upgrade will replace older rail with stronger steel, to support the faster and heavier trains.”

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