The new concrete sleeper factory at Wagga Wagga, which will supply one million concrete sleepers for Australian Rail Track Corporations Ltd’s (ARTC) concrete re-sleepering of the interstate rail line between Sydney and Melbourne, is proceeding on schedule and will have its first pour of concrete on 6 June, according to David Marchant, chief executive of ARTC.

The new factory is being built on the Bomen industrial estate by Austrak a fully owned subsidiary of Laing O’Rourke.

“This new factory is a key factor in enabling ARTC to go forward with our Melbourne to Sydney rail upgrade investment program,” Mr Marchant said. “The new concrete sleeper factory being built in Wagga will be the largest sleeper plant in NSW and Victoria,” said Austrak’s general manager, David Priddle.

After the first pour of concrete sleepers from the new Austrak Wagga factory in June, the sleepers will then need to cure for four weeks before they can be laid on the track.

ARTC entered into a contract worth over $100 million with Austrak last November for the supply of 1,250,000 concrete sleepers and fasteners, to be fully delivered by 2008.

“Concrete resleepering is an important part of ARTC’s current $2 billion North South investment program to upgrade the interstate rail network from Melbourne to Brisbane, improving transit times, reliability and capacity on the interstate network. Transit times are estimated to reduce Melbourne – Sydney by two and a half hours, from 13 hours 10 minutes to 10 hours 40 minutes for 1,500 superfreighters and to 11 hours 30 minutes for 1,800m superfreighters,” Mr Marchant said.

ARTC has recently made significant investments in Wagga Wagga with the establishment of new ARTC management offices and provisioning centre precinct at Station Street and the construction of the new $17 million rail bridge across the Murrumbidgee at Wagga Wagga.