Upgrade for Sugar Cane Railway begins

Friday, 18 November 2016

Work to replace the old timber sleepers at the Sugar Cane Railway in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens has started after the arrival of a track tamping machine.

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the Bundaberg Steam Tramway Preservation Society received a $20,000 Stronger Communities grant which was used toward the purchase of the $70,000 machine.

“The 2km rail track has flooded twice, costing the not-for-profit group considerable time and money to repair. The tamping machine will dramatically reduce the time in replacing sleepers and any repairs required,” he said.

The machine arrived last month and Mr Pitt got to see it in action today.

“The Sugar Cane Railway is a wonderful tourist attraction in our region which has carried more than 540,000 passengers since it began in 1988. This new equipment will see the railway well into the future,” Mr Pitt said.

Australian Sugar Cane Railway secretary Ross Driver said the new machine – which packs the underside of the sleepers – had made a huge difference to the maintenance on the track.

“This is a major acquisition for our railway and allows us to tackle bigger sections of sleeper replacement. The unit is motorised and it’s amazing how fast it can tamp a sleeper,” he said.

“It used to take about three days for a gang of up to eight men to replace 80 sleepers. The machine can pack approximately 100 in an hour, with two men operating the machine.

Mr Driver said they’d already replaced about 300 sleepers manually and had about 3000 to go.

“The concrete sleepers – which are made at ISIS Sugar Mill in their major sleeper manufacturing plant – have a much longer lifespan than timber sleepers.”

Timber sleepers have a 10-15 year life span, while concrete sleepers will last 50-60 years.

Through the Stronger Communities Program, eligible community groups could apply for grants of between $5000 and $20,000 for small capital projects. All applications need to commit at least matching funding or in-kind contributions.

Each Federal Electorate is allocated $150,000 a year over two years. For more information go to www.infrastructure.gov.au/SCP 

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