The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has backed a modification of the bridge over the Walgett Branch Line in Narrabri to allow double stacked trains to transition on and off the Inland Rail mainline and further boost freight opportunities in northern New South Wales (NSW).
Following consultation with Narrabri Shire Council and key stakeholders ARTC will increase the height of the planned bridge over the existing Walgett Branch Line from 5.8 m to 7.1 m to allow double stacked container wagons to pass under.
ARTC Chief Executive Officer Mark Campbell said raising the bridge will help industries to realise benefits from the long-term supply chain activities taking place at Narrabri.
“We have committed over $8 million to raise the height of the proposed Inland Rail bridge to 7.1 metres to allow double stacked trains to pass through the Walgett Branch Line, which will help support the vision of the Narrabri Council for a world class Inland Port at Narrabri,” said Mr Campbell.
“This is going to future proof the investments which have been made in Narrabri by providing long-term productivity gains as well as better connection to existing rail networks and the Port of Newcastle.
“ARTC is committed to creating a safe and efficient rail network and maximising supply opportunities to allow regional communities to prosper for years to come.
“Inland Rail, the Narrabri Activation Precinct, Northern NSW Inland Port and the Narrabri to Turrawan Line Upgrade project are all key elements of delivering a future freight hub in northern NSW,” said Mr Campbell.
ARTC Inland Rail’s Interim Chief Executive Rebecca Pickering said the decision is a win for the community and farmers in northern NSW.
“This is another example of how we are working alongside the community and key stakeholders to achieve better outcomes for years to come,” said Ms Pickering.
“The Narrabri to North Star section of Inland Rail is charging ahead, where 920 people, including 281 local residents, have worked on the project since construction commenced in 2020.
“As we approach construction on the Narromine to Narrabri section later this year, we are committed to creating opportunities for the local community and workforce.
“The modification to this bridge is a great result and we will continue to work alongside Narrabri Shire Council and key stakeholders as Inland Rail ramps up.
“We are also future proofing the designs for Inland Rail by including the footprint of a future enhanced connection between the Walgett Branch and Inland Rail in the plans for Inland Rail.”
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the opportunities for business growth, employment and economic development are endless because of Inland Rail.
“The modification of the bridge over the Walgett Branch Line in Narrabri will not only allow double-stacked trains to transition easily from Inland Rail, but will continue to enhance possible future connections,” Mr Coulton said.
“By securing connective options for the future, Inland Rail ensures freight delivery security for not just Narrabri but the surrounding communities.”
Narrabri Shire Council Mayor Ron Campbell said the modification will create opportunities and support longer term development and growth in and around Narrabri.
“We are delighted that ARTC has listened to feedback and made the decision to raise the Walgett Bridge height. Not only will this allow more freight on rail, but it enables the development of those planned connections in parallel with Inland Rail’s delivery,” said Mr Campbell.
“Narrabri Shire will benefit as well as the broader north west region as it presents the opportunity to maximise the development of this new rail infrastructure and promotes better connectivity.”
The bridge will be upgraded as part of the Narromine to Narrabri Inland Rail project, with construction on track to kick off in late 2022.