The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have jointly awarded the single largest tender of the A$119.6m ($85m) Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Project to VEC Civil Engineering for track works on the Melba and Western line.
The two governments have each committed A$59.8m ($42.9m) towards the project, to secure the safety, reliability and competitiveness of rail freight operations in Tasmania.
Acting prime minister and minister for infrastructure and regional development Warren Truss said: "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."
Scope of work will include undertaking re-sleepering, re-railing and associated track upgrade works on these lines.
The deal will see 48,000 new steel sleepers and 30km of new rail installed at priority sections of these rail corridors.
Federal member for Lyons Eric Hutchinson said: "The Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation project should improve the capacity and productivity of industries in Tasmania that rely on rail.
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"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."
Work is scheduled to be initiated at the start of next year and is expected to be completed in mid-2017.
Federal member for Braddon Brett Whiteley said: "The rail upgrade would deliver economic dividends for the entire state.
"It’s not just about repairing old line, it is 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."
According to train operator TasRail, the project has a combined value of approximately $38m, which includes the cost of materials, transport, services and contract labour, and aims to provide ongoing employment for VEC’s workforce, including the creation of at least another ten new jobs.
Tasmanian minister for infrastructure Rene Hidding said: "The track infrastructure targeted in this project is essential to operate and maintain the line in an efficient manner.
"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."
Image: VEC will carry out track renewal works on the Melba and Western Lines. Photo: courtesy of TasRail.