sleepersNew concrete railway sleepers will continue rolling out of Grafton thanks to the Rudd Labor Government’s $1.2 billion investment in the interstate rail network.

Rocla Sleepers’ Grafton factory is producing new dual-gauge concrete sleepers – and as result of the Government’s unprecedented investment, will continue to operate at full capacity until November. The factory employs around 60 locals.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the new sleepers will replace the old wooden sleepers along the interstate network between Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane, greatly reducing the likelihood of the track buckling during hot weather.

“The new sleepers will create a faster, more reliable rail system,” said Mr Albanese.

“The upgrade of this vital line is perhaps the biggest rail project to be undertaken in Australia since the corridor was originally laid.

“Once Rocla Grafton finishes producing the sleepers for current projects in March, they will start producing sleepers for the new projects announced by the Prime Minister in December.”

Australian Rail Track CorporationChief Executive Officer David Marchant said that while the production of the concrete sleepers is essential for projects on the North South corridor and other interstate freight rail projects, the work will also benefit the Grafton community.

“ARTC is proud to partner with a local company as we hit the ground running with the upgrade of rail infrastructure in NSW.  The jobs this work will generate will be a significant boost to Grafton,” said Mr Marchant.

Rocla Sleepers manager Ric Lewtas explained how the investment by the Australian Government will boost their operations.

“The Nation Building injection by the Australian Government will allow Rocla to continue work at the Grafton factory. Prior to the Government’s announcement, there was the real possibility that work would dry up in Grafton. As of this month, it’s all systems go,” said Mr Lewtas.

“The announcement of further projects will also mean a boost to employment in Grafton, not only through Rocla’s Grafton operations, but also the trickle-down employment affect for many of our suppliers. This sort of knock-on employment is vital in regional areas.”

Local Federal MP Janelle Saffin said the project was crucial in maintaining job security for this area of the local Grafton workforce.

“I’m particularly pleased the Australian Rail Track Corporation has partnered with a local company to deliver our massive investment program – a partnership that’s protecting local jobs and delivering a boost to the Grafton economy,” said Ms Saffin.