Bold idea to save his­toric bridge with In­land Rail project

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY JEFF ZEUSCHNER jzeuschner@ ne­me­dia.com.au

WAN­GARATTA Rail­way Sta­tion would have a sunken plat­form and lower track un­der plans be­ing mooted to save the sta­tion’s her­itage listed rail­way foot­bridge from be­ing a ca­su­alty of the In­land Rail project.

The Cu­sack Street foot­bridge, in ser­vice since 1888/89, to­gether with the Docker Street foot­bridge, are both ear­marked to be re­moved, to make way for the dou­ble-stacked freight trains to run be­tween Mel- bourne and Bris­bane.

In the foot­bridges’ place the Aus­tralian Rail Track Cor­po­ra­tion (ARTC) is sug­gest­ing a sin­gle, cen­tral foot­bridge, to be ac­cessed via steps and twin-shafted elevators at ei­ther end in­stead of cur­rent ramps.

The ARTC has said it is also ex­am­in­ing al­terna- tives, in­clud­ing the op­tion of up­grad­ing one of the ex­ist­ing foot­bridges, but any de­sign so­lu­tions will need to meet com­pli­ance stan­dards.

Wan­garatta’s Charles Szeligiewicz, a train driver for 36 years who also runs a build­ing de­sign busi­ness, met with Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta coun­cil­lors and se­nior of­fi­cers last week to present his bold plan and lobby for coun­cil sup­port.

He is propos­ing for the ARTC to ex­ca­vate the track to a depth of 2.3 me­tres from the Green Street over­pass un­til the Rowan Street un­der­pass.

“If they did this the height re­quire­ment needed for the dou­ble stack con­tain­ers can be met and the ex­ist­ing foot­bridges can stay,” he said.

The works would, how­ever, re­quire a new, sunken train plat­form to be built ad­join­ing the ex­ist­ing rail­way sta­tion.

Mr Szeligiewicz be­lieves his plan can pro­duce the best re­sult for the com­mu­nity.

AN in­crease in jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal sup­pli­ers and con­trac­tors is ex­pected for the Hume re­gion dur­ing and be­yond the con­struc­tion of the Vic­to­rian sec­tion of the Aus­tralian Govern­ment’s In­land Rail freight project.

In­land Rail will di­rectly con­nect Mel­bourne and Bris­bane via re­gional New South Wales, al­low­ing freight to travel on a ded­i­cated rail­way, be­tween north and south in less than 24 hours, mak­ing it eas­ier to move freight to do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

The Tot­ten­ham to Al­bury sec­tion of In­land Rail is planned along 305km of ex­ist­ing rail cor­ri­dor from met­ro­pol­i­tan Mel­bourne to Al­bury-Wodonga.

This project will see en­hance­ments re­quired to ac­com­mo­date dou­ble stack freight trains of 1800 me­tres in length to be run on the track, vastly im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency of the line.

To help re­gions take ad­van­tage of In­land Rail, the De­part- ment of In­fra­struc­ture, Re­gional De­vel­op­ment and Cities has com­mis­sioned the Re­gional Aus­tralia In­sti­tute to de­velop a strate­gic plan­ning tool, ‘Are You Ready For In­land Rail?’, which will help re­gions iden­tify po­ten­tial ar­eas of growth based on new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The depart­ment is also work­ing with the CSIRO to de­velop the In­land Rail sup­ply chain map­ping pi­lot project, which will as­sist re­gions and in­dus­tries to un­der­stand re­gional sup­ply chains and op­ti­mise re­gional freight flows.

Hume re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­clud­ing the Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia (RDA) com­mit­tee and the Goul­burn and Ovens Mur­ray Re­gional Part­ner­ships are work­ing to­gether to un­der­stand how to make the most of the short-term and long-term ben­e­fits to the re­gion.

Su­san Benedyka, the Wan­garatta-based chair of the Hume RDA, said that lo­cal jobs op­por­tu­ni­ties will be iden­ti­fied dur­ing the project assess­ment phase, due to com­mence later this year, with for­mal in­dus­try and com­mu­nity work­ing groups a key driver.

“Lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers will have the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider what in­no­va­tions, spe­cific skills and ex­pe­ri­ence they can bring to the project,” Ms Benedyka said.

“When com­plete, this project will con­nect key re­gional centres and ru­ral pro­duc­ers to our ma­jor ports, cap­i­tals and dis­tri- bu­tion hubs via Vic­to­ria, New South Wales and Queensland.

“In­land Rail will pre­pare the na­tion for our grow­ing freight task, di­rectly con­nect­ing Mel­bourne and Bris­bane in less than 24 hours, mak­ing it eas­ier to move freight to do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets”.

The Aus­tralian Govern­ment has iden­ti­fied that freight vol­umes be­tween Bris­bane and Mel­bourne are fore­cast to triple by 2050.

For more on the In­land Rail in­dus­try brief­ings email: in­landrailen­quiries@artc.com.au.

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