Monday, March 2, 2009

Sydney rail the focus of federal spending

by Daniel O'Leary of Lloyds List DCN
The Federal Government has allocated $15m to accelerate planning and design work on an $840m dedicated freight line between Sydney's North Strathfield and Gosford.

Work on a $27.2m upgrade on the Port Botany rail line would also begin in March or April, federal transport minister Anthony Albanese announced yesterday in parliament.

The project would include track rearrangement and circuiting as well as signalling work.

However, construction had already begun on the long-awaited, dedicated Sydney freight line yesterday, he said.

The 36km-long track is intended to clear a bottleneck through the city on the interstate rail network.

The $309m project will be funded by the Commonwealth-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation, with a likely completion date of 2010 set.

Mr Albanese said the line would solve frustrating delays to freight services caused by limited track capacity.

Sydney passenger trains hold right of way over freight trains, but the new dedicated freight line should resolve this problem.

The line will run from Macarthur to Chullora providing access to about five freight trains an hour.

Port Botany will also be accessible through southern Sydney 24 hours a day.

The purpose of the new investment was to make rail more competitive by slashing travel times and improving reliability, Mr Albanese said.

The improvements would help to reduce the number of trucks on the road with each 1,500 metre train equivalent to about 100 semi trailers.

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