The first major milestone in the billion dollar upgrade and modernisation of the Interstate Rail Network from North Strathfield through Sydney’s northern suburbs to Newcastle has been reached with the commissioning of the new passing loop at Hexham.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said construction of this new piece of infrastructure is one of four separate but complimentary projects being undertaken as part of the $1.1 billion Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Upgrade.
“Completed on time and within budget, the new 1,500 metre passing loop remedies the lack of space previously available for holding freight trains on Sydney’s outskirts so that they could be better coordinated with CityRail passenger services,” said Mr Albanese.
“Once fully completed, the planned improvements will take 200,000 trucks a year off the road, cut annual carbon emissions by more than 100,000 tonnes, reduce diesel use by some 40 million litres per annum and increase the corridor’s capacity by 50 per cent from 29 to 44 freight trains a day.
“Importantly, this project is part of a much broader Federal investment in the City’s rail infrastructure, which also includes an upgrade of the Port Botany link, construction of a dedicate freight line from Macarthur to Chullora and a new intermodal facility at Moorebank.
“These projects will help make Sydney work better. They will also improve the reliability and transit times across the entire Interstate Rail Network, which is vital if we are to get more freight off our roads and onto the back of trains.”
In addition to the new Hexham passing loop, the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Upgrade will build a rail underpass at North Strathfield, lay a third track between Epping and Thornleigh and install new passing loops near Gosford—see attached map. The project is being jointly funded by the Federal ($840 million) and NSW ($214 million) governments.
ARTC CEO John Fullerton said the new Hexham passing loop now allows them to more efficiently position, coordinate and stage freight trains through the RailCorp passenger network.
“We have various windows to schedule freight services on the busy and crowded RailCorp passenger network, and the Hexham Loop will allow us to more effectively do so,” said Mr Fullerton.
“With freight rail again becoming an attractive proposition for major transport operators we are determined to put in place the capacity necessary to accommodate future growth. Indeed, a better rail network will be good for the environment, the economy and the broader community, including Sydney motorists.