Increased freight capacity and more reliable journeys for Central West rail customers are on track with work starting on two new passing loops in the state’s Central West.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the NSW Government is investing $21.5 million to build two new loops between Lithgow and Blayney and to plan for further vital work along the Main Western Rail corridor.

“The two loops will ensure the nine million tonnes of freight transported annually along the western corridor moves more efficiently, reducing the cost of getting export freight to port and domestic freight to markets,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The Main Western Rail Line Capacity Enhancement program will help rail operators to meet the growing demand for freight on the corridor, reducing the demand for road freight without negatively impacting passenger services that run along the line.”

“It means important increased capacity for the minerals, agricultural and interstate freight moved along the western corridor, supplying domestic and international markets.”

Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said the project involves building 3.6 kilometres of new track and associated signalling infrastructure to accommodate the passing of trains up to 1.5km in length.

“The loops, about three kilometres south of Rydal Railway Station and immediately west of Georges Plains Railway Station, will mean more passenger trains like the Bathurst Bullet, the Dubbo XPT, as well as the Indian Pacific and Broken Hill Xplorer passenger services will no longer be held up by freight trains on the line,” Mr Toole said.

“The NSW Government has invested more than $1.3 billion in the operation and maintenance of the Country Regional Network since 2011, demonstrating its commitment to this important freight and passenger link.”

Work is expected to be completed in early 2019.