inland rail project a step closer

The 1700km Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail construction is in its next stage with a $31 million contract to supply steel rail underway.

The initial 6,000-tonne batch of the new steel rolled off the Whyalla production line in late May, and is now being delivered to northern NSW.

This current steel delivery has an innovative new rail design, designed and manufactured in Australia specifically for the Inland Rail project.

Inland Rail CEO, Richard Wankmuller, said, “Whyalla is a big part of Australia’s rail history and their steel underpins thousands of kilometres of ARTC’s existing network around Australia, including the first section of Inland Rail from Parkes to Narromine where nearly 14,000 tonnes of steel has been delivered for construction now underway.

“We are preparing for the next stage of construction on Inland Rail on the Narrabri to NorthStar section following Federal and State Government project and associated approvals.

“This high-quality steel by Liberty – which is the only Australian manufacturer of rail steel to the standards required for Inland Rail – will be used for reconstruction of the existing track, construction of a new section of rail line at Camurra and level crossing works, among other things.

Mr Wankmuller, said the new rail shape – produced by the combined expertise of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Liberty – was designed by ARTC to enhance Australia’s largest rail infrastructure project.

“In order to deliver its full benefits, Inland Rail needs to provide a safe and fast alignment, and the modified rail cross-section profile accommodates this by improving the performance of the wheel-rail interface,” Mr Wankmuller said.

“The new profile has been developed to reduce rail wear and reduce maintenance costs, and lessens the requirement for rail grinding on commissioning of the track”. 

It has been incorporated into the publicly available suite of ARTC Track Standards and from now on become the new norm for all tangent track across ARTC’s 6500km Interstate Network.

“The innovative new profile was designed by ARTC teams and the final shape was further refined in conjunction with Liberty Primary Steel in Whyalla, which is producing the first rail delivered for the section of Inland Rail between Narrabri and North Star.

“This is only the beginning. There are five Sydney Harbour Bridges’ worth of steel required to build Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane. That means more potential for jobs and benefits for Australians. The benefits of Inland Rail are starting to flow to businesses, not just in NSW, but all around Australia.”

Liberty General Manager Commercial, Carol-Anne Nelson, said the company was pleased to secure yet another significant Inland Rail contract, as well as being able to deliver such an innovative new product.

“As we seek to transform our business, it’s vital we develop and grow our product range to cater for an evolving market, working closely with our customers to create customised, premium solutions,” Ms Nelson said.

“It is exciting to be supplying such an innovative product, particularly to this landmark ‘nation building’ project which will also create additional employment and industry opportunities in regional communities right across Australia, including Whyalla.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the new rail would improve the performance of faster, more efficient double-stacked trains, supporting speeds of up to 115kms per hour along the alignment.

“Consistent with the Government’s commitment to growing our regional economies, Inland Rail is a catalyst for local jobs well beyond the Melbourne to Brisbane alignment,” Mr McCormack said.

“6,000 tonnes of innovative rail was designed and manufactured in Whyalla and delivered to central New South Wales for the next section of the Inland Rail track between Narrabri and North Star.

“We know that our local manufacturers have the skills and creativity to be competitive. That is why Inland Rail has chosen top-quality, Australian-made steel to build this transformational project — because we know towns like Whyalla produce world-class products,” Mr McCormack said.

Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, said that large-scale infrastructure such as Inland Rail has long been a driver of job creation and regional growth.

“We’re building transformational infrastructure projects such as Inland Rail to build economic resilience and strength, building on Australia’s reputation as leaders of innovative manufacturing and design,” Senator Cormann said.

Federal Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, welcomed the advice that LibertyOne Steel Whyalla Steelworks had been contracted to manufacture rail for the Narromine to North Star section of Inland Rail.

“Whyalla has a long and proud history of manufacturing rail steel for our rail network, including a $20 million contract to supply 14,000 tonnes of rail for the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail.

“Manufacturing is the predominant industry in Whyalla with more than 23,000 people in the town and its surrounds reliant on the iron and steel industry. Contracts such as this, for Inland Rail, make a real difference in the lives of Whyalla locals.

“Even 10 jobs staying in Whyalla because of Inland Rail is a huge win for the town, and with approximately 262,000 tonnes of steel needed to build Inland Rail — the equivalent to five Sydney Harbour Bridges — I have utmost confidence in the steel plant’s capacity to continue to deliver the high standard required for Inland Rail.”

The Institute of Railway Technology at Monash University peer reviewed the new profile and provided valuable support through the development of the final product.

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