Northlink Northern Rail Freight Bypass

The Northern Rail Freight Bypass project seeks to gain approval by State and Federal Government for the development of a new rail and freight bypass to the north of the city of Adelaide that would increase freight capability and transport safety, reduce residential noise and support the South Australian economy. This project is a cross collaboration between the Mitcham Council,  Adelaide Hills Council, Unley Council, District Council of Mallala, Rural City of Murray Bridge and the Regional Development Australia groups of Barossa, Murraylands and Riverland and Metropolitan Adelaide.

Over the last ten years, rail freight has increased in length, weight and frequency. In a society which is looking to encourage rail freight over road freight, the wider community generally sees this expansion as a positive. However, the passage of heavy freight through a major city, a section of which includes tunnels, tight curves and steep gradients, naturally is accompanied by the very real problems of noise, health, safety and traffic delays.

In many cases it is suspected that rail track ‘cant’ elevations are falling outside of balanced speed ‘cants’, thus increasing rail head wear and noise at the interface. In addition, where there is rail wear there is also wheel wear. ‘Cant’ deficiencies which exceed 75 mm are not only a danger for derailment but force larger loads on to the outer wheels and flanges.

An upgrading of the Adelaide Hills Line would not only be a massive and ongoing expense (as identified in number of reports), but would only ever partially address the problems mentioned above.

With the broad and long-term picture in mind, the RFTF is proposing and has mapped a new freight train bypass to the north of Adelaide. The new corridor, running from Murray Bridge in the east to Mallala in the west, would travel though relatively unpopulated, much straighter and flatter country than the present route. It could also have the added advantage of allowing a parallel road freight carriageway, which could reduce both road and rail freight movements into the Adelaide metropolitan area.

The proposed bypass offers enormous long-lasting benefits to both residents of the wider community as well as to those in the rail freight industry. Considering the importance of rail freight to both the South Australian and Federal Governments, it would seem reasonable for SA to see some real response to these issues.