AUSTRALIAN Rail Track Corp has called tenders by August 12 for upgrading work between Melbourne and Sydney, with around 450 potential partners invited to join the Southern Alliance.

A$500m is to be spent on the route as part of ARTC’s government-funded A$1·3bn upgrading programme (RG 7.04 p386). Work is to be completed within four years, two years sooner than originally proposed.

ATRC plans to lay 220 km of new track to create 16 double-track sections, instead of lengthening passing sidings, so that trains can be extended from 1·5 to 1·8 km. Another 130 km of curved track will be relaid with increased cant to allow higher speeds, as this will be quicker than building new alignments. The aim is to cut journey times from 14h to 10h 50min, opening up the prospect of a 24h Melbourne - Brisbane timing.

At present rail carries 11 million tonnes of freight a year in the Melbourne - Sydney corridor, giving it an 11% share of the land transport market. This compares with 19% for Sydney - Brisbane and 21% for Melbourne - Brisbane. The government’s aim is to raise rail’s market share to around 40% by 2020.

  • Now taking delivery of 82 high-capacity freight vans for Melbourne - Perth services, SCT Logistics has announced plans to buy 11 locomotives for A$60m and become an open access freight operator in its own right. SCT entered the rail market in 1995, and initially contracted the haulage of its trains to Freight Australia, which has since been taken over by Pacific National.