Freight transport in Australia is expected to grow substantially over the next few decades, with a major role for rail.
In 2008 ARTC commissioned the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alignment Study to identify the corridor for a potential future inland railway. Halcrow was engaged by Parsons Brinckerhoff with Aurecon to provide technical and engineering expertise.
The study considered potential routes between the freight markets of Melbourne and Brisbane, to bypass the Sydney Metropolitan area. Route and alignment options were assessed, based on construction costs and journey times, with engineering, environmental and maintenance considerations feeding into the process. Halcrow provided the operations and maintenance inputs into the study, and was part of the management team responsible for route and alignment assessment.
Journey times for route options were estimated by considering the quality and possible improvements of existing track, and the general terrain crossed by existing and greenfield alignments.
The tunnelling inputs of the study were also coordinated by Halcrow, including geotechnical, fire and life safety, railway operations, environment, construction and cost specialists for tunnel boring machines and mined tunnelling options.
The completed study was released in August 2010. It indicates that journey times and costs could be significantly reduced in comparison with the existing coastal route, and that the project would be economically viable on present freight demand projections by around 2030.