Added strength for vital link

WestNet Rail is currently embarking on a $95 million upgrade of the rail line between the Goldfields towns of Koolyanobbing and Kalgoorlie.

The company will be replacing the existing 47 kg per metre rail with heavy-duty 60 kg per metre rail across the entire 185 km line between the two towns.

This section of the line is part of the rail network that links the west coat of Australia with the east coast.

WestNet chief executive Paul Larsen told Australian Mining the upgrade was part of a national plan to standardise interstate infrastructure.

“The infrastructure in the Eastern Goldfields serves a number of purposes, mainly to transport iron ore and nickel concentrates to the Port of Esperance for export,” he said.

“But the line also accommodates around 80% of all the freight that comes into Western Australia, which is mainly groceries and consumables.

“Concrete sleepers and heavy rail are now required for the east to west coast infrastructure.

“We have currently got concrete sleepers all the way from Kalgoorlie to the Perth metro area and heavy rail all the way from Koolyanobbing to the Perth metro area.”

At the moment the railway carries over 16 million tonnes of interstate and intrastate freight and 132,000 passengers every year.

The upgrades will increase the network’s current capacity from 142 train paths up to 183 train paths.

The company is also undertaking a $130 million upgrade of the line from Koolyanobbing to the Port of Esperance with the help of iron ore miner Cliffs Natural Resources.

According to Larsen, this program will strengthen the line by replacing the current mixture of 41 kg and 47 kg per metre rail with 50 kg per metre rail.

“Cliffs are considering an expansion from 8.5 million tonnes to 11.5 million tonnes per annum, so this will make the line more robust to handle this,” he said.

Larsen said the project would ensure the infrastructure was capable of supporting the continued growth of Perth and Western Australia.

“Consumption will increase, so we need to make sure this link can handle it,” he said.

“There are also a number of junior explorers in the Northern Goldfields that are looking at Esperance and Oakajee as export options.

“So this upgrade will allow these new projects to get off the ground with confidence, which will ultimately grow the Western Australian economy and deliver prosperity.”

The project will support 315 jobs and take around 11 months to complete.

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