The shutdown of the Hunter Valley Rail Network is continuing, and soon work will also start on replacing three rail bridges at Muswellbrook.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) are carrying out the shutdown until Friday, 22nd May at 6:30am on the rail network from Kooragang Island to Narrabri and Ulan through the Upper Hunter.
Around 1000 workers are working on more than 120 jobs including removing and replacing almost 19 kilometres of rail, ballast cleaning four kilometres of track, reconditioning of two kilometres of track and routine maintenance and various other major upgrades.
A key part of this shutdown for ARTC is the use of a new Loram grinder to improve rail performance.
ARTC Group Executive Hunter Valley Wayne Johnson said the 200-metre-long grinder, which has been in use since February, is a great addition to the maintenance shutdown program.
“It is an amazing piece of machinery, one of the largest and most efficient in the world in fact, certainly the largest rail grinder in the Southern Hemisphere,” Wayne Johnson said.
“On a heavy haul network such as the Hunter Valley, over time the top of the rail wears down over time due to the forces of the trains,” he said.
“The grinder keeps the rail infrastructure in the best shape possible, removing the fatigued metal layer, extending the life of the rail and the train wheels whilst reducing noise for our nearby neighbours and saving fuel in the train running”.
Wayne Johnson said the work requires a total rail movement shutdown for work to be carried out as safely as possible.
“Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have a number of mitigations in place to minimise potential risks to the community and the workers involved in the Hunter Valley maintenance shutdown,” he said.
“The shutdown in April saw a reduction in the scope of work of the maintenance program due to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak and with the practices controls we’re back to running at our usual capacity.”
“We need to carry out the scheduled shutdown to allow us to access the track for maintenance and upgrades that cannot be done safely when trains are running.”
“We thank our customers, community and motorists across the network for their patience while we carry out this important planned maintenance program”.
Alternative bus services will be provided for impacted passenger services, and details and schedules can be found at the Transport for NSW website.
The next major maintenance shutdown is scheduled from August 4-6, 2020. For further details www.artc.com.au/community/track-work/
Muswellbrook rail bridges getting replaced
Three of Muswellbrook rail bridges will also be getting replaced over the coming months.
Due to their age and condition the Hunter River, Muscle Creek and Bridge Street rail bridges will all be replaced with work starting to complete the project next month.
The ARTC said up to 200 people working on it at various stages over the next two years.
The replacement work will be costing the ARTC around $58 million.
Laing O'Rourke is the principal contractor for detailed design and construction and will commence next month and continue until June 2022.