The $163 million Hexham Relief Roads project involves the construction of five railway tracks to allow trains to be temporarily diverted off main tracks while they wait to enter loading facilities at Newcastle Port.
The project is expected to take 15 months to complete.
Federal Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Warren Truss said the five tracks would each be about 2km long, able to hold two or three locomotives and up to 90 wagons on each length of track.
“These new tracks will help remove train bottlenecks and give train movement controllers flexibility in the event of breakdowns or delays, reducing wait times and increasing reliability,” Truss said.
“They will be built at Hexham, a semi-industrial area 15km northwest of Newcastle on the western side of the track near the Hexham Railway Station.
Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay said the extra Hexham rail lines, known as relief roads, would help increase efficiency in the Hunter valley coal rail network.
“Moving coal from mine to port is the single largest freight task in NSW, as well as a major employment source in the region so this project is good news,” Gay said.
“The project will also generate local jobs through the use of local contractors and suppliers.
The project is being delivered by the Upper Hunter Valley Alliance on behalf of the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
ARTC CEO John Fullerton said a detailed construction environmental management plan had been prepared to ensure protection of the environment during construction.