State of Practice: Australia

University of Wollongong
Rail, traffic, sleepers, and
fasteners in Australia
A/Prof Alex Remennikov
School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering
University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia
Rail Network in Australia
Rail Gauge in Australia
 Very little thought was given in the early years of the
development of the colony-based rail networks of Australiawide interests. Despite advice from London to adopt a
uniform gauge, gauges were adopted in different colonies,
without reference to those of other colonies. This has caused
problems ever since.
Rail Network in Australia
 The total traffic task around
Australia in 2006-2007 was 102
billion tonne-km of freight, with
inter-capital freight being 30
billion tonne-km.
 The intercity network (BrisbaneSydney-Melbourne-AdelaidePerth) is standard gauge
throughout. Queensland's state
network is narrow gauge
(1067mm), NSW's is standard
gauge,Victoria is broad gauge
(1600mm), etc.
Rail Network in Australia
 On the main intercity lines
throughout Australia heavy duty
concrete sleepers are the sleeper
of choice by a great margin,
usually with Pandrol e-clip type
 On these lines passenger traffic is
less than 5% of the total, with
freight wagons being the
overwhelming type of vehicles on
the lines. Axle loads for freight
are generally 15 to 20 tonnes,
with maximums up to 25
Rail Network in Australia
 The Australian rail network has 41,500 km of track, of which 3000
km is electrified.
 Passenger traffic in Australia is 250 billion pax-km cars, 60 billion
pax-km air, 40 billion pax-km other (e.g. buses), 15 billion pax-km
 Total freight traffic in Australia is 500 billion tonne-km of which
40% is by rail. On a tonnes-of-goods-transported basis, 3000
million tonnes of freight were moved of which 25% was carried by
 On the suburban passenger rail lines in most Australian cities, the
sleepers are a mix of timber, steel, heavy duty concrete, and low
profile concrete, with a consequent wide variety of fasteners.
Rail Network in Australia
 Low-trafficked branch lines still tend to be timber sleepers
with dog spikes, all around Australia.
 The vast majority of traffic tonnage on Australian rail lines
comprises 100t to 160t wagons on the coal lines of Central
Queensland, the Hunter Valley in NSW, and the iron ore areas
of the Pilbara in WA.
 Coal lines tend to carry wagons with 25t to 35t axle loads,
iron ore lines have wagons from 35t to 40t axle loads.
Sleepers are entirely heavy duty concrete at 600-650mm
centres with a variety of e-clip and fist-clip fasteners, though
the Pandrol e-clip is a predominant choice these days.
Rail Network in Australia
 Freight trains have a maximum unrestricted length of
1200 m with double stacking of containers on some
lines, iron ore and coal trains are often around 4000
m length.
 Passenger trains travel up to 120 km/h, freight trains
generally around 60-80 km/h, and mineral trains
around 60-80 km/h.

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