Construction work has stepped up a gear this week on a critical rail upgrade project to improve reliability and capacity of the Hunter Valley Rail Network to Newcastle.
A part of the Australian Government’s $1.2 billion National Building package includes a contribution towards the $134 million first stage of the project, known as the Minimbah Bank Third Rail Line.
The project involves the construction of approximately 10 kilometres of third rail track from Minimbah, west of Belford to Whittingham.
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO David Marchant said the construction work for Stage 1 is expected to be completed by early 2010.
“This is a vitally important project as part of the Federal Government’s national building package to meet the forecasted increase in demand for export and domestic coal in the Hunter Valley,” Marchant said.
“Without the upgrade to the Main Northern Rail network, coal exported from the Hunter Valley through the Port of Newcastle could start to be constrained from 2015.”
ARTC recently formed the Hunter 8 Alliance with John Holland and GHD to design and build the new track with the project involving two concurrent stages.
Stage 1, from Minimbah to Whittingham, received approval from the Minister for Planning under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 on 22 May, 2009.
The Alliance is currently undertaking an Environmental Assessment and preliminary design work for Stage 2, a third track of 32 kilometres from Maitland to Minimbah, known as the Maitland to Minimbah Third Track.
The Hunter 8 Alliance has prepared a number of Environmental and Community Management Plans to identify specific measures to reduce impacts to the environment and the local community during construction.
An independent Environmental Representative has been engaged to review the environmental performance during construction, in accordance with NSW Department of Planning requirements, to safeguard any community concerns.