The scope of works under the contract include upgrading approximately 171km of existing track to a significantly higher standard to allow heavier and longer trains to operate between Narrabri and North Star.

The three bidders for this project are:

  • Lendlease Engineering
  • RailFirst (a joint venture between Downer EDI and Seymour White), and
  • Trans4m Rail (a joint venture between Rhomberg Rail Australia, BGC Contracting and SEE Civil).

Inland Rail CEO, Mr Richard Wankmuller, said ARTC is now entering a formal request for tender phase to determine the successful bidder.

The section has been divided into two portions to enable further investigation of the more complex hydrology of the 15km floodplain between the Mehi and Gwydir rivers north of Moree, while the remaining upgrade works progress as scheduled.

ARTC also announced a $A 235m ($US 162.5m) contract with John Holland for major works on the North East rail line in Victoria, between Melbourne and Albury.

Works will include ballast depth improvements along the entire corridor, mudhole removal and track resurfacing, drainage upgrades, and around 100 level crossing and rail bridge upgrades.

“We know that the reliability of North East line services is a real and on-going concern for passengers,” says ARTC chief executive, Mr John Fullerton. “This is a key step towards providing improved reliability, smoother journeys and a reduction in major delays for passenger services between Melbourne and Albury.”  

While the works are not directly related to the Inland Rail project, this section of track will also ultimately form the southern end of the freight route.

The Inland Rail project will offer a transit time of 24 hours or less for freight trains between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.