In an effort to strengthen the connection between New South Wales farmers and the rest of the state, the New South Wales Government is investing a further $24 million into regional rail upgrades.

The latest funding has been allocated to upgrading the 96km of rail line between Gilgandra and Coonamble, helping boost freight loads and lower costs.

New South Wales Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Sam Farraway, said the funding is part of the New South Wales Government’s $400 million Fixing Country Rail Program.

“A lot of work has been put into the development of this project and it is great news we are investing in infrastructure that will directly help freight operators and primary producers, such as grain farmers,” Mr Farraway said.

“It takes an average of ten hours to load a freight train. By upgrading our rail network through our Fixing Country Rail Program, we will allow more freight to be transported per trip, reducing delays and allowing goods and produce to get from farms and factories to our ports and supermarket shelves quicker.”

“The more efficient we can make our supply chain, the less it costs our freight industry, which will ultimately reduce costs for families at the register.”

The rail line will be upgraded to a 25t axle load, to allow access for heavier trains and increase the total produce that can be transported through the region from the current 84t gross weight limit to 100t per wagon.

By upgrading the rail line between Gilgandra and Coonamble, the line will be able to provide the same axle load capability of the Inland Rail alignment that will connect at Curban in the future. 

“Big loads and long distances are where our rail network shines. Rail freight is the most cost-effective way to transport large quantities over long distances with one 600m long train carrying the equivalent load of at least 54 trucks,” Mr Farraway said.

Gilgandra Shire Mayor, Doug Batten, said this was a fantastic outcome in ensuring that 25t axle weight grain trains on the Gilgandra – Coonamble line would be capable of joining the Inland Rail line at its intersection at Curban.

“This is one of many Inland Rail initiatives Gilgandra Council has been advocating for since the announcement of the Inland Rail Project,” Mr Batten said.

“The project is a game-changer for Gilgandra in connecting our farmers to the rest of the state and strengthening our local economy.

“This line services a large cereal and grain producing region supplying the domestic flour milling, oilseed and stockfeed sectors and bulk exports markets via Port Kembla and Newcastle; it is a vital part of the state’s economy.”

Coonamble Shire Council Mayor, Tim Horan, said the project will build on the benefits of another Fixing Country Rail project delivered on this line – the $2.5 million Coonamble rail siding.

“The Coonamble rail siding project was completed in 2020 and has boosted the capacity on this line allowing for an extra 450 operational hours per year on this line,” Mr Horan said.

“That means more goods are being transported from paddock to port and today’s news will further strengthen the rail line and our supply chain.

“It will also open up opportunities for economic growth for existing business and any looking to move out to the bush.”

Since 2017, Fixing Country Rail has provided over $270 million for more than 50 rail improvement projects.  

Upgrade work on the line between Gilgandra and Coonamble is expected to start in mid-2023, weather and material supply permitting.

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