THE AUSTRALIAN Rail Track Corporation is progressing with construction plans and maintenance works on freight networks in New South Wales.

ARTC has announced its $41-million Southern Highlands Overtaking Opportunities project can now proceed, following the corporation’s response to community submissions.

The project involves delivering overtaking opportunities for trains at Werai in the Southern Highlands and at Joppa Junction near Goulburn.

It aims to address the lack of locations for interstate freight services to be overtaken by passenger services.

ARTC said trains are currently being held at either end of the rail corridor for long periods, resulting in reliability issues for freight (and passenger) services.

It said the Southern Highlands Overtaking Opportunities project, once completed, will allow for more efficient movement of freight and passenger rail services, particularly for those on the Sydney to Melbourne rail line.

Mike Zambelli, ARTC group executive manager construction projects, thanked those who had provided feedback on the project.

“The two locations will each provide two ‘double crossovers’ approximately two kilometres apart, to allow trains of up to 1800 metres in length to be overtaken by faster services,” Mr Zambelli said.

“We have reviewed all feedback and invite the community to view the Response to Submissions Report, which considers and responds to comments.”

Project construction is expected to start in early 2023 and be completed by late 2024.

Maintenance shutdown

And also, ARTC has announced a maintenance shutdown of the Southern Highlands network and Southern Sydney Freight Line from Enfield West to Macarthur, and Macarthur to Joppa Junction.

It will carry out maintenance works over the weekend, from Friday 13 January at 2230 until Monday 16 January at 0200.

ARTC said the maintenance works would improve the safety, reliability and resilience of the Southern Highlands network and the Southern Sydney Freight Line.

Costas Kokkoni, ARTC general manager asset maintenance services – interstate, said it will target the removal of temporary speed restrictions and ensure the track condition remains at a high standard.

“Freight is an essential service. Regular maintenance works ensures that the Southern Highlands Network’s vital supply chain for the economy and jobs can keep moving, as well as keeping our customers, staff, and the community safe,” he said.