Inland Rail is Australia’s largest freight rail infrastructure project. The 1,700 kms of track will complete the national freight network link between Melbourne and Brisbane. Inland Rail will reduce travel time between the two cities to less than 24 hours and unlock the economic potential of regional Australia.
WSP has played a role on the project since 2010 when we were engaged to complete a comprehensive feasibility study of route options to determine the preferred corridor and present a business case to government.
In 2014, we became the Technical Advisor to develop five of the nine packages through to preliminary assessment. Today we are delivering the first two critical projects to begin construction: Parkes to Narromine (P2N) and Narrabri to North Star (N2NS), along with feasibility studies for Illabo to Stockinbingal.
Parkes to Narromine (P2N)
The P2N section is one of 13 projects that complete Inland Rail. It covers approximately 106 kms of an existing rail corridor, including five kilometres of new rail track at Parkes. This will allow 1,800 m trains travelling at 115 km per hour to move along the track.
Key components of this section include:
- Replacing track, sleeper and ballast
- Realigning the track to increase operational speeds
- Adjusting the rail formation to achieve one in 100-years’ flood immunity
- Replacing culvert and bridges
- Upgrading level crossings to improve safety
The section also requires work on grade separations, passing loops, signalling and communications and utilities.
In joint venture with Mott McDonald, WSP has provided detailed design and construction phase services, including:
We are focused on driving high-quality, value-for-money solutions while addressing the many challenges on a project of this scale.
The section features flat terrain and the existing rail lacks sufficient flood immunity. We have completed considerable modelling and hydraulic analyses to determine how to achieve a one-in-100-year flood immunity for the track. The existing embankment material contains high ash levels. We conducted extensive geotechnical investigations in the live rail corridor to support the formation design.
Wherever possible, we have prioritised the reuse of existing materials to create value for money. Using our complete multidisciplinary team and extensive Inland Rail knowledge, we have supported an accelerated detailed design program. WSP has continued to support the contractors and client with construction phase services to deliver this once-in-a-generation project.
Narrabri to North Star (N2NS)
N2NS upgrades 188 km of track within the existing rail corridor, along with construction of approximately 1.6 km of new rail. The upgrades between N2NS include:
- Reconstruction of the existing track
- New section of rail line at Camurra to bypass the existing hairpin curve
- Re-establishing and/or expanding drainage works next to the track
- Level crossing works
- Replacing existing culverts and replacing bridges at the Mehi River, Gwydir River and Croppa Creek
- Establishing five crossing loops
- Minor changes to track alignments at Bellata, Gurley and Moree stations
- Providing a new road bridge over the existing rail corridor at Jones Avenue in Moree and the Newell Highway near Bellata
In joint venture with Mott MacDonald, WSP was engaged to provide detailed design and construction phase services including:
- Site investigation: survey and geotechnical
- Environmental planning approvals: flood modelling and environmental impact assessments
- Engineering design: hydrology/hydraulics, track and formation, rail signalling, civil, structural and utilities
Illabo to Stockinbingal
In joint venture with Mott MacDonald, WSP was engaged to complete the Phase 2 design works which included:
- Refining the design alignment from a 2 km wide corridor into a 40 m wide corridor
- Developing separate alignments through the corridor then undertaking a rigorous multi-criteria assessment to determine the preferred alignment. The multi-criteria assessment considered technical and operational considerations as well as community feedback received as part of a stakeholder engagement exercise.
- Undertaking field investigations to inform the design and approvals as well as de-risk later stages of the project
- Developing a Feasibility Design suitable for primary approvals and for procurement of following stages of the project
- Completing environmental primary approval documentation in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for submission to the state and federal authorities.
To complete the multi-criteria assessment and preferred alignment report, WSP developed a number of alignment options covering a two-kilometre-wide corridor identified in previous studies. We then undertook rigorous multi-criteria assessment to rank these options before settling on a preferred alignment.
The Environmental Impact Statement is being progressed in parallel with the design and includes field investigations on flora, fauna, culture, heritage, agricultural and land use assessment.
In addition to the above packages, WSP was seconded to provide communications support to the Inland Rail project team for external communications across all the project packages. As part of our role we supported and collaborated with the client to ensure best practice communications were implemented. This has included one-on-one landowner meetings, community drop-in sessions and feedback for input into the multi-criteria assessment.