That's a 'no' to bridge over Forbes Inland Rail crossing

The Inland Rail project team advises it has no plans to introduce a grade separation (or overpass to separate road and rail) at this crossing.
The Inland Rail project team advises it has no plans to introduce a grade separation (or overpass to separate road and rail) at this crossing.

An overpass over the Inland Rail crossing on the Newell Highway in Forbes is not part of the project scope, Forbes Shire Council has been told.

Council wrote to the project team requesting grade separation (or an overpass) so Newell Highway traffic won't be interrupted.

It's a notion that's been raised since the 1980s, and council in 2020 called for it to be considered as part of the the Inland Rail 'Productivity Enhancement Program'.

The application was unsuccessful, and councillors resolved to write to State and Federal politicians to plead their case.

But a letter signed by project director Melvyn Maylin says the crossing, with bells, lights, and boom gates, already has the highest "form of control" under the Australian Level Crossing standard.

"Inland Rail is not proposing any works at this location and a grade separation at this location is not within the Inland Rail scope," the letter states.

The letter says the Stockinbingal to Parkes section of works is only enhancement: they will modify specific sites along the line to allow for double-stacked freight trains.

Planned works do include modifications to the century-old bridge over the Lachlan River in Lower Bathurst Street, and works at the historic railway station to allow for horizontal clearances.

"We acknowledge council's concerns regarding traffic impacts at level crossing due to the increased number of Inland Rail trains, however we have previously advised that the projected average wait time at level crossings will be approximately two-and-a-half minutes during peak Inland Rail operation," Mr Maylin wrote.

Councillors will now write to Member for Riverina Michael McCormack asking him to advocate for grade separation at the crossing.

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