Not just a feature wall – Southern Sydney Freight Rail Line

The construction of the Southern Sydney Freight Rail Line was part of a major program of works to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of rail freight services along the vital North-South Rail Corridor.

The project provided a third track dedicated to freight transportation between Macarthur and Sefton Park Junction. The objective was to provide a bi-directional, non-electrified third track dedicated to freight movement for 36 kilometres in order to allow passenger and freight services to operate independently.

After extensive consultation with local councils, schools and businesses, community liaison groups, indigenous and multicultural associations and residents living adjacent to the new track, Hebel SoundBarrier walls were manufactured with unique routed patterns that expressed local themes, important cultural emblems such as native flora and a local government logo. This provided a visually pleasing and attractive feature wall in addition to a highly functional noise barrier.

Prior to the completion of this project, freight trains shared rail lines with South-Western Sydney’s metropolitan passenger trains and were not permitted to run during morning and afternoon peak periods.

The SSFL has improved freight rail services by removing the current peak hour curfew and allowed more freight trains to operate between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. However, the new track is located in densely populated residential areas in South Western Sydney, so the project primarily called for good acoustic insulation in order to lessen the impact of freight movement on local residents. Made from autoclaved aerated concrete, the Hebel SoundBarriers provided acoustic performance levels which were rated over and above the requirements for this project.

In this project, track access was also limited and scheduled around commuter train timetables. Work often took place outside normal working hours to avoid disruptions to the passenger train network. Achieving construction deadlines was critical, not only to ensure work crew safety, but also to minimise the impact on commuters and the local community. Additionally, restricted access to the line meant fast set up and installation using small, agile equipment was critical. A solid but lightweight aerated concrete panel, the Hebel SoundBarriers were installed by smaller construction teams without the need for heavy equipment.

Hebel SoundBarriers met the short lead times the project demanded. Localised crews were readily trained to handle and quickly install the panels, enabling multiple zones to be constructed in a tight work schedule.

The use of Hebel SoundBarriers allowed the contractors to meet the tight installation schedule, despite line access restrictions and the challenging site. Hebel also met key requirements for high level acoustic insulation and attractive aesthetics. Due to its ability to provide customised factory-routed patterns, a variety of designs were easily incorporated in multiple locations, well and truly satisfying the brief for a functional and visually appealing sound barrier.


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