The MR upgrade program runs from 2020–2027 and this year will see Stage 2 of the works carried out – the largest stage in terms of scope and cost – resulting in a $17m investment in the MR.
Stage 2 works will take place throughout 2021 on two sections of the line between Narngulu and Dongara, and Moora and Mooliabeenee, including the replacement of 38,200 timber sleepers with heavy duty steel sleepers, approximately 28,000 tonnes of ballast top-up, resleepering of eight non-bitumen sealed level crossings, and replacement of 8,600 steel sleepers.
Arc Infrastructure Head of Head of Network Strategy & Long Term Planning Michal Golinski said the works had been planned strategically, based on grain tonnages and train cycle times across each section of the MR line.
“We have staged the works based on the tonnes carried on each section and train cycle times. This means the sections carrying the highest amount of tonnes and those that will have the biggest benefits to train cycle times have been prioritised for upgrade early in the program, and we will work our way through to sections with lower tonnages in the later stages of the project,” Mr Golinski said.
Arc Infrastructure Head of Major Projects Sudip Saha said Arc will source new heavy duty steel sleepers for the upgrade from Adelaide that were previously imported from the UK.
“In terms of sustainability, we are committed to purchasing locally manufactured heavy duty steel sleepers where possible, and will only source from overseas where demand can’t be met locally. We are transitioning the MR line from timber to steel sleepers where we can to ensure the asset is more resilient and has a longer life span,” Mr Saha said.
The sleepers are a new design that was originally tested on the standard gauge Leonora line, and will now be made in narrow gauge for the grain lines. These steel sleepers have a lifespan of at least 40 years, compared with timber sleepers which last up to 15 years.
The MR major upgrade works complement the State government’s recent announcement to contribute to funding the four priority rail projects that CBH, WATCO and Arc have been working on since 2019 to support increased use of the regional grain rail supply chain.
The co-investment commitment from WA Labor and CBH in rail sidings and loading infrastructure at Moora will be well supported by the major works underway on the MR line.
Arc will continue to collaborate with CBH, WATCO and the State government in line with the Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy
to achieve the common goal of getting more grain on rail in regional Western Australia.