The Australian Rail Track Corporation has been asked to promise that after $1 billion of spending on the North East rail line, the upcoming works will be “it”.
Chief executive John Fullerton faced a Senate Estimates heading in Canberra this week, where Senator Janet Rice put questions to him she had received from people on the Border.
“How can assure the community that undertaking these works is actually going to be it in terms of addressing the problems, particularly the mudholes that have continued to be regenerated?” Senator Rice said.
Mr Fullerton said the ARTC has a specific plan on how to use $235 million of federal government funding to upgrade the track to a class 2 standard, including ensuring the ballast - the stones under the rail track - are deep enough to prevent issues.
“Mudholes occur from time to time on any track so it’s a thing we deal with all over the network,” he said.
“We’re replacing a significant amount of ballast to give 200 millimetres of free-draining ballast, we’re replacing timber-deck bridges, we’re replacing level crossings.
“A lot of those things you might think aren’t related to ballast condition, but they are because when you get vertical movement that can start to pound the track, then allow mudholes to develop.
“A lot of that periferal work around the bridge decks and the level crossings is all aimed at improving ballast condition.”
The tender is expected to be awarded soon and major work started by the end of the year.
Mr Fullerton said the works would “allow the ride quality to be improved, but importantly make it more reliable and more resilient”.
“We’ve consulted with about 700 - with BRAG, with the Hume passenger group and we’ve conducted I think around about seven community sessions … we’re about to do some more in the next couple of months,” he said.
“Not only are we doing $235m of ballast upgrade work over the next two and bit years, we’ve also got $400m worth of inland rail activities on that corridor as well, to lower the track.”
Senator Rice also asked the ARTC to release the independent review of the scope of works, conducted by Monash University.
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