Inland Rail plans complete: historic bridge stays, but no highway crossing upgrades for Forbes

The century-old bridge over the Lachlan River is to be modified to allow for double stacked trains. Artwork supplied.
The century-old bridge over the Lachlan River is to be modified to allow for double stacked trains. Artwork supplied.

The reference designs for the Stockinbingal to Parkes section of the Inland Rail have been finalised, and will go on exhibition for public comment later this year.

The century-old bridge over the Lachlan River will be retained and the awning at the railway station will be modified, it was revealed at an online information session held in place of the planned face-to-face sessions due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"We would like to thank the community for their ongoing involvement in the Inland Rail project," Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) Inland Rail Project Director for Albury to Parkes Melvyn Maylin.

"Feedback has been considered alongside the engineering, cost, environmental impact and feasibility and constructability of the options assessed."

What's not addressed in the plans is the council's campaign for a grade separation - or an overpass - to ensure traffic on the Newell Highway is not disrupted.

Inland Rail said, in a statement, that there were no works required at the Newell Highway crossings as part of the scope for the Stockinbingal to Parkes project.

The historic bridge over the Lachlan River on Bathurst Street and the railway station are two of the local points of focus.

"Options to modify or replace the Lachlan River Bridge were considered through the reference design process," Mr Maylin said in a statement to the Advocate.

"The multicriteria analysis has determined the Lachlan River rail bridge will be modified to allow the safe passing of double-stacked trains.

"Our proposed bridge modification option minimises impacts to its heritage value, and we are committed to working with the appropriate stakeholders to manage any potential impacts."

The modification works to the bridge structure, include:

  • removing diagonal and horizontal members within the frame at the top and at the ends of the truss structure. These will be replaced with alternative members outside and above the existing sides;
  • strengthening of vertical members with vertical truss frames;
  • strengthening of stringers and cross girders along the base of the structure with steel plates;
  • adjustments to short sections of existing handrail on the approach span adjacent to the truss structure;

ARTC explained to the Advocate that strengthening of the bridge is required prior to removal of metal work to ensure the structural integrity of the bridge is not compromised, but nNo work is proposed on the track and it does not need to be widened.

The 1919 bridge is strong enough to carry the bigger heavier trains, but the top of the truss will be about 60cm higher or about 9.3m.

Most of the steel truss will remain in place and look the same. The top will look different, as the new bracing will be outside and above the sides of the truss, instead of in between.

The other item of note in this update was from further south: the Milvale Water Tank area is to undergo minor modifications to ensure the safe passing of double stacked trains.

The tank and associated water pump dates from 1925 and represent the development of transport and steam locomotives in the area, the ARTC team explained.

In May, the Inland Rail team was in Forbes to talk about other parts of the local trackwork including the addition of a loop at Daroobalgie to allow safe passing of double-stacked trains, and the lowering of the track under the Wyndham Avenue Bridge.

"The Daroobalgie Loop is being constructed to enable the safe passing of double-stacked freight trains - the preferred design we are presenting features 2.2km of new track built to the eastern side of the existing track and three existing culverts are being upgraded," Mr Maylin said at the time.

"As part of building Daroobalgie loop ARTC will be upgrading the level crossing to an active crossing with boom gates, bells, and lights.

"The design for Wyndham Avenue Bridge will see 500m of existing rail track lowered by a maximum depth of 1.5m under the existing bridge."

The environmental approvals for the Lachlan River Bridge and the horizontal clearances will be on public display at the end of 2021.

"We encourage the community to make a formal submission at this time," Mr Maylin said.