FINAL signalling work on the upgraded North East railway line is unlikely to be completed until September, but it should not impede new V/Line trains running on the track beforehand.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation chief executive Mark Campbell said in Albury on Wednesday that all trackwork and replacing of bridges and culverts had been done.
"That's been a really great project, a great success," Mr Campbell said.
"There's some residual signalling work that is due to be completed mid to late this year, sort of around September, partially that's been delayed because of COVID but the significant upgrade work which has produced a ride quality superior to a Victorian class two which was the target is complete."
Mr Campbell was then asked by The Border Mail whether that meant new VLocity trains, earmarked for the line by the Victorian government, could operate on the line from September or next month?
"The track upgrade is complete....so it is ready for whenever the trains are available," he said.
The ARTC boss is among the speakers at the three-day Inland Rail Conference which began at the Albury Entertainment Centre on Wednesday.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Inland Rail chief Richard Wankmuller gave an update on the progress of the Melbourne to Brisbane freight route development which is due to be completed by 2027.
He believes it will reverse Australia's current ratio of road to rail cargo.
"In Australia today 30 per cent of freight is on rail, 70 per cent is on road, that is the exact opposite of most of the developed nations in the world," Mr Wankmuller said.
"We think Inland Rail will get us to almost 70 per cent on rail, we'll get those cost benefits, we'll drive down the costs of doing business.
"By 2040-45 I think we'll flip that number."
Ettamogah Rail Hub owner Colin Rees, an opening day speaker at the conference, believes to achieve that turnaround there will need to be encouragement given to new regional freight operators on short lines such as Griffith to Junee.
He said governments needed to help support such providers who could fill niches that don't make sense on an economic scale for national freight firms.
"It's about being enthusiastic and bringing new people into the sector," Mr Rees said.
He said such an approach was common in the US and Canada.