THE single largest tender of the $119.6 million Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Project has been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd to carry out track works on the Melba and Western line.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the Australian and Tasmanian Governments had each committed $59.8 million to the overall project, to secure the safety, reliability and competitiveness of rail freight operations in Tasmania.
“Works as part of the Freight Rail Revitalisation are taking place on the rail network across the state, helping to ensure safe, reliable and environmentally responsible freight solutions are available in Tasmania for years to come,” Mr Truss said.
Federal Member for Bass Andrew Nikolic and Federal Member for Lyons Eric Hutchinson were onsite for today’s tender award in Longford.
Mr Nikolic said VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd would undertake re-sleepering, re-railing and associated track upgrade works on the Melba and Western lines.
“VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd will be responsible for laying around 48,000 sleepers and 30 kilometres of rail, while maintaining timetabled rail traffic during construction,” Mr Nikolic said.
Mr Hutchinson said the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation project should improve the capacity and productivity of industries in Tasmania that rely on rail.
“In particular, ‘high tonnage’ industries will be better able to compete in international and interstate trade and commerce. This includes the cement and paper industries, where large volumes must be transported to port, almost continually,” Mr Hutchinson said.
Mr Whiteley said the rail upgrade would deliver economic dividends for the entire state.
“It’s not just about repairing old line, it’s about ensuring the state’s infrastructure is capable of capitalising on future economic growth as a result of the three North-Asia free trade agreements signed by the Federal Government,” Mr Whiteley said.
Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding, who joined Mr Nikolic, Mr Hutchison and Mr Whiteley for the contract award, said track works on the Melba and Western line would target critical near-life expired track infrastructure for upgrade.
“The track infrastructure targeted in this project is essential to operate and maintain the line in an efficient manner,” Mr Hidding said.
“This project will reduce the operational costs of freight movements by providing additional rail capacity, improved reliability and reduced transit times. They will also help to reduce derailments.”
Works are planned for commencement next month and are expected to be completed in mid 2017.