Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Government has signed two construction contracts with a combined value of nearly A$600m ($392.2m) to upgrade rail infrastructure in the state.

The contract works will be delivered in two separate packages.

NSW transport minister Andrew Constance said: “We’re cracking on with major infrastructure projects like this one to ensure we support jobs, communities and the economy at this critical time.”

As agreed, the Next Rail partnership will carry out all upgrade works from Central to Hurstville.

The Transport for Tomorrow partnership will be responsible for projects between Mortdale and Kiama.

The scope of works will include upgrading stabling yards and power supplies, modernising rail signalling, as well as track and station improvement works.

These rail projects are expected to create 550 new jobs across several disciplines, including engineering, rail construction and security among others.

Constance added: “Today’s announcement means we are keeping people in work and creating about 350 direct new jobs and around 200 indirect jobs located either in Sydney or on the South Coast.”

Once complete, the upgrade works will help the introduction of new suburban and intercity trains and increase the frequency of services on the T4 Illawarra, T8 Airport and South Coast lines.

Constance added: “We’re prioritising these lines because they are among the busiest on the network, catering for 440,000 trips in a typical day, which is around one-third of daily rail customers.”

Rail upgrade works are scheduled to begin in the middle of this year and are expected to be completed before service improvements, which are scheduled for late 2022.