Plans for two new passing loops for trains were unveiled late last week.
The $21.5 million rail project was announced by Freight Minister Melinda Pavey at the site of one of the planned loops.
The loops will be constructed between Blayney and Lithgow, one at Georges Plains and one a few kilometres south of Rydal Railway Station.
The purpose of the loops is to enable slower trains to move out of the way and allow faster ones to overtake. The Western Rail Line is currently shared by freight trains transporting nine million tonnes of freight every year and passenger trains such as the Indian Pacific, the Bathurst Bullet, Broken Hill Xplorer and the Central West XPT.
While the well known saying claims that sharing is caring, it’s not always easy when passenger lines and interstate freight transport services have deadlines to meet, timetables to stick to and passengers waiting.
Grainforce, based in Bathurst, is one of the businesses that regularly uses the Western Rail Line. They transport approximately 250,000 tonnes of freight into Port Botany every year.
Managing director Derek Larnach admits that rail congestion can make things difficult. He said that trains can miss critical dock loading times because of delays along the line and this costs the business money.
“The congestion on the lines at the moment can be a little challenging… Sometimes we’d have 30 minutes wait while trains pass each other,” he said. “We need to be on time every time, 95 per cent of our business is export to Asia.”
Trains play a critical role in the movement of freight in Australia and reducing the number of trucks on our roads. In fact, it would take 10,000 trucks to freight the amount of produce that Grainforce transports to the port every year.
Other businesses in the Central West and Bathurst regions will also benefit from the upgrade to the Western Rail Line. Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight in NSW said that the Main Western Rail Line Capacity Enhancement program will make it easier for the rail industry to cater for the growing demand for freight.
“The two loops will ensure the nine million tonnes of freight transported annually along the western corridor moves more efficiently, reducing the cost of getting export freight to port and domestic freight to markets,” she said.
Each of the loops will measure 1.8 kilometres of new track and will be able to cater for the passing of trains which are up to 1.5 kilometres long.
Ms Pavey said that increasing efficiency on the tracks would lessen the need for road freight without jeopardising the effectiveness of passenger trains that also make use of the line.
“It means important increased capacity for the minerals, agricultural and interstate freight moved along the western corridor, supplying domestic and international markets,” she said.
Since 2011, the NSW Government has spent more than $1.3 billion on the running and upkeep of the Country Regional Network.