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Contracts have been awarded for a further section of the Inland Rail corridor, with project promoter ARTC selecting a Laing O’Rourke-led consortium to deliver civil works on the so-called ‘missing link’ between northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.
The interstate infrastructure manager has signed a collaborative framework agreement with the Freight Connect consortium of Laing O’Rourke and FKG Group covering the 85 km from the NSW railhead at North Star to join the Queensland Rail network at Whetstone, east of Yelarbon. This includes a bridge across the Macintyre River which forms the border between the two states. There will be 15 km of new construction, together with 51 track-km of 1 435 mm gauge and 47 km of dual 1 435/1 067 mm gauge track following existing or former railway alignments
The consortium was also awarded the separate Narrabri to North Star Phase 2 contract covering a 14 km section of the route south of Moree. This was still awaiting environmental approvals when the main contract was awarded.
Freight Connect will initially work with ARTC to review the reference design and develop construction methodologies, supporting the development of a fully costed proposal for the first works packages next year.
Although major construction will not start until the statutory environmental and planning approvals processes have been completed in each state, ARTC’s Interim Chief Executive for Inland Rail Rebecca Pickering said ‘the appointment of a preferred proponent now tells local businesses to get “Inland Rail ready” and start talking with Freight Connect about what the future looks like’. This would allow them ‘to hit the ground running’, she believed.
Inland Rail’s Director of Pre-Contracts Rob Storey explained that ARTC had changed its procurement processes in September 2020 ‘to make it more collaborative’, with smaller and less complex projects giving more opportunities for a broader section of the supply industry to participate.
Earlier this month, ARTC awarded a similar contract for the BHQ joint venture to act as design and construction partner contract for the 162 km section in southern Queensland, from Yelarbon to Gowrie Junction, northwest of Toowoomba.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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