The project is the second stage of the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s plan to add a third rail line between Maitland and Whittingham.
The Hunter 8 Alliance completed stage one, a 10.8 kilometre line from Minimbah to Whittingham, last year.
For stage two the alliance will build two new sections of track (Branxton to Minimbah and Telarah to Greta) totalling 23km, recondition 9km of existing track (Branxton to Greta), erect six bridges and upgrade one station.
The alliance comprises the ARTC, John Holland and designer GHD.
Signalling works are being handled by the AANCSA Signalling Alliance, a partnership between the ARTC and Ansaldo STS.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the works would double rail capacity between Minimbah and Maitland to 200 million tonnes a year.
ARTC chief executive officer John Fullerton said the project was a key part of the ARTC’s ongoing plan to keep rail capacity ahead of market demand for Hunter Valley coal.
“At present, the capacity of the Hunter Valley rail network is around 146 million tonnes per annum,” he said.
“However, industry forecasts indicate that demand on the network will increase to over 200Mtpa by 2014.
“The ARTC is therefore implementing a strategy of line improvements endeavouring to keep system capacity ahead of industry demands. The design and construction of the Minimbah to Maitland Third Track is central to meeting the strategy’s objectives.”