Works have started on laying 658,000 new long concrete sleepers at a cost of $145mn along two critical sections of Australia’s interstate freight rail network.

The fund provided by, Rudd Labor Government, will help in replacing existing sleepers with 433,000 concrete sleepers on line between Maroona and the South Australian border at a cost of $100m and 225,000 on line between Albury and Seymour in Victoria at $45m.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO David Marchant said: “The use of concrete sleepers will also reduce the need for temporary speed restrictions in summer due to the effects of heat on the rail.”

He also added that concrete sleepers will hold the rail firmly in place, whereas wooden sleepers tend to buckle on extremely hot days.