An innovative new rail for the transformational 1,700km Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, has been designed by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and the final shape further refined in conjunction with LIberty Primary Steel in Whyalla, who are also responsible for its manufacture.

Inland Rail CEO, Richard Wankmuller, said the new rail shape – made possible by the combined expertise of the ARTC and Liberty – was designed to suit the alignment of Australia’s largest rail infrastructure project.

“In order to deliver its full benefits, Inland Rail needs to provide a flat and fast alignment, and the modified rail cross-section profile accommodates that by improving the performance of the wheel-rail interface,” Mr Wankmuller said.

Mr Wankmuller said an initial 6,000-tonne batch of the new steel rolled off the Whyalla production line in late May for the section of Inland Rail between Narrabri and North Star, and delivery to northern NSW began on 17 June.

“The $31 million contract to supply the steel rail required for this next section of the project has been secured by Liberty Primary Steel, which already supplies widely for projects across ARTC’s rail network,” Mr Wankmuller said.

“Whyalla is a big part of Australia’s rail history and their steel underpins thousands of kilometres of ARTC’s existing network around Australia, including the first section of Inland Rail from Parkes to Narromine where nearly 14,000 tonnes of steel was recently delivered.

“We are preparing for the next stage of construction on Inland Rail on the Narrabri to North Star section pending all Federal and State Government project and associated approvals.  This high-quality steel by Liberty – which is the only Australian manufacturer of rail steel to the standards required for Inland Rail – will be used for reconstruction of the existing track, construction of a new section of rail line at Camurra and level crossing works, among other things”, he said.

Liberty General Manager Commercial, Carol-Anne Nelson, said the company was pleased to secure yet another significant Inland Rail contract, as well as being able to deliver such an innovative new product.

“As we seek to transform our business, it’s vital we develop and grow our product range to cater for an evolving market, working closely with out customers to create customised, premium solutions” Ms Nelson said.

“It is exciting to be supplying such an innovative product, particularly to this landmark ‘nation-building’ project which will also create additional employment and industry opportunities in regional communities right across Australia, including Whyalla”.

Ms Nelson said as well as helping Liberty secure the new contract, this product may also reduce roller-wear, increasing the productivity of Whyalla’s rail manufacturing process.

“ARTC have a choice about where they buy their steel from, so we’re very pleased that they’re continuing to buy our high-quality, Australian-made steel for the next stage of this vital infrastructure project,” she said.

“They will also be one of our customers that will soon see the benefit from a $3 million investment in the existing Whyalla rail plant, which will lead to various improvements and deliver enhancements in productivity and accuracy.”

The Institute of Railway Technology at Monash University peer reviewed the new profile and provided valuable support through the development of the final product.