A section of the Trans-Australian railway has been restored to service following a major flood event, with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) successfully implementing a 24-day repair operation.

The repaired railway section between Adelaide and Tarcoola will see the first nine freight trains move essential supplies such as fresh food, beverages and retail goods between this vital rail link connecting Western Australia and the Northern Territory to the Eastern states.

Following significant rainfall and flooding in South Australia between January 21-23, which was described by meteorologists as a one-in-200-to-300-year event with more than 200mm of rain in 24 hours, the ARTC was forced to close the interstate network between Port Augusta and Tarcoola.

ARTC Group Executive Interstate Network, Simon Ormsby, said all of Australia owed a debt of thanks to the crews and contractors who have worked extremely hard to bring the interstate network back online.

“ARTC crews from Port Augusta led the charge, with support by teams from Kalgoorlie, Adelaide and Port Augusta,” Mr Ormsby said.

“Contractors and staff from other areas were also called in to assist due to the overall scale of the operation.

“In the end we had more than 100 staff on ground working around the clock to fix 18 locations along a 300km stretch of track in 24 days.

“This was a tremendous display of coordination and effort, with our on-ground work supported by ARTC project management and logistics staff from across the country.”

Mr Ormsby also thanked the companies that rallied together through the intensive repair efforts, including McMahons, Exact Mining, and Bardavcol, who reallocated resources from their mining and road projects in the region to support rail recovery efforts.

“A special mention also to John Holland, who brought in specialist rail construction resources from the Eastern states, and Arc Infrastructure and Sydney Trains, who supplied specialist equipment to be utilised in the recovery effort,” Mr Ormsby said.

“ARTC had almost 100 people on the ground working dual shifts to shift more than 50,000 tonnes of ballast and rock being used for the repair work.

“More than 25 units of heavy machinery were used across the work sites, and in a number of areas we were required to re-build access roads from the highway to the rail network to enable the movement of heavy machinery to site, requiring a massive coordination of civil works.

“I would also like to thank all our customers for their patience during this period while they have been working with us as we moved towards the resumption of services today.

We are hoping to get back to normal operation as soon as possible.”

Key facts of the Trans-Australian Rail repair work – February 2022

  • 18 locations along 300km of track needed major repair
  • 50,000 tonnes of ballast were used during repairs
  • More than 100 ARTC staff worked around the clock to restore line to service
  • More than 50,000 tonnes of ballast and rock utilised in repair activities
  • Much-needed supplies are now flowing into Western Australia and Northern Territory
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