New deal underpins strong future for Country Regional Network

Published

The NSW Government will award a contract to UGL to operate and maintain the Country Regional Network (CRN) on behalf of Transport for NSW for 10 years starting from January 2022.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the new $1.5 billion contract, which takes effect from early 2022, was a significant investment in crucial rail infrastructure and regional NSW.

“Running the CRN is an important and mammoth task. Since 2011, the NSW Government has invested more than $1 billion to ensure it delivers for all our customers, from our rail passengers to farmers and industry,” Mr Toole said.

“In fact, almost 1,000km of the network is dedicated to moving grain, highlighting the importance of the CRN in moving the State’s crops from the silo to local markets and ports for export.

“The new partnership with UGL will see an increase in the amount of maintenance work carried out over the next 10 years to ensure that the network continues to meet the high standards that operators and customers expect.

“We went to the market asking for a strong focus on regional employment including a minimum of 80 per cent of jobs needing to be based in the bush and a requirement for a Network Control Centre in a regional area which UGL has advised it plans to set up in Orange.”

Under the deal with UGL, there will be an overall increase in jobs in the regions.

“We’ve also set UGL an industry leading target of 12 per cent for the employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. They have set themselves the target of exceeding that and hitting 20 per cent by 2026,” Mr Toole said.

The CRN comprises almost 2,400km of operational rail lines and more than 3,000km of non-operational lines, more than 1,300 level crossings (300 active), more than 900 bridges and 1,200 property assets like stations - 356 of which are heritage listed.

The current contract to operate and maintain the CRN has been held by John Holland Rail since 2011 and is due to expire at the end of 2021. A 12 month mobilisation period will follow the award of the new contract, to enable the smooth transition of the new service provider.

UGL won the right to operate and maintain the network from 2022 following a competitive tender process.