Ongoing contracts with ARTC will see total railway line recovered for recycling pass 1,000 track kilometres (2,000 lineal kilometres) by July 2014. ARTC’s major re-railing works began in early 2012, with upgrading of the standard gauge line between Melbourne and Albury.
Access Recycling was contracted to work behind the teams installing the new rails to ensure the timely removal of the old rails. Working conditions were extremely difficult with almost no side track access to the railway line. To overcome the mammoth task of removing almost 90 tonnes of scrap rail every kilometre Access Recycling developed some unique railway machinery.
Large 4WD farm tractors were modified by fitting rail guidance wheels and adjusting the rubber tyre spacing to suit the railway line. The tractors were then able to travel on the railway line like small locomotives, towing lengths of rail up to 300 metres long down the centre of the track.
Due to the lack of rail corridor access points it was necessary to drag the rails for distances of 10 kilometres or more, before cutting them into small pieces for recycling. While large proportion of the rail will be reused in other networks, including Tasmanian Railways, the bulk of it, in excess of 80,000 tonnes, has been exported to various steel mills throughout Asia for smelting.
After completing the Melbourne to Albury line in 2012, Access Recycling was contracted to purchase and remove the rails from Whyalla to Port Pirie (SA) and then across to Broken Hill in NSW. From January to July 2014 Access Recycling will remove the worn rails between Cootamundra and Parkes (NSW).