Epping to Thornleigh Third Track

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This project involves the construction of six kilometres of new and upgraded track within the rail corridor between the Epping and Thornleigh stations on the western side of the existing tracks.

The new (third) track will separate northbound freight from all-stops passenger train movements along the steep incline between Epping and Thornleigh. The outcome of this project is to provide additional capacity for northbound (interstate container) freight trains to proceed, particularly during the daytime when passenger trains currently have priority.

The project requires track duplication with the existing train line in close proximity to the new alignment. Conventional drill and blast and rock removal techniques cannot be used in this situation.

UEA’s Vermeer T1255 Terrain Leveller is ideal for track duplication projects where the existing rail line has to remain live. This is the first time a Vermeer T1255 has undertaken this type of work within an urban Sydney rail corridor.


UEA has met the targets and expectations of the clients to date (May 2014).

In excess of 7,500 cubic metres of hard sandstone material has been excavated (at May 2014). UEA achieved this production during approximately 85 hours of cutting time. It is estimated that 70 per cent of excavated material excavated will be in the Class I range of Sandstone.

The material excavated so far has been from a combination of Cuts 2 and 3 on the project, which are located south of Cheltenham Station in the rail corridor and next to residential street, The Crescent.

Environmental Protection – Dust

When works commenced on the project in February 2014, it became apparent immediately that the type of sandstone material encountered was prone to generating a large volume of dust during cutting. It was at this stage UEA took the pro-active decision to source a method to eliminate the impact on the environment.

UEA consulted with field experts internally and externally and made the decision that a vacuum system was going to be the solution to dust-control. UEA proceeded by mobilising a 1200cfm mobile dust collection and filtration unit to the site. This method proved to be extremely successful and has been acknowledged with positive feedback from a site visit carried out by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to inspect the system on behalf of local residents.

Environmental Protection – Noise

With the surface mining method compared to conventional rock hammering, noise from this project is significantly less intrusive. UEA has been able to continue works in close proximity to residential areas without the need for respite periods. It is also clear that the vibration generated by the surface mining compared to conventional methods is significantly less, with vibration unnoticeable whilst works are being carried out.

Client Feedback

The work UEA has carried out so far has been positively acknowledged by the clients ETTT and Transport for NSW (TfNSW), the latter requesting information for a media release about the successful application of the Surface Miner.

The clients have provided favourable feedback about the early completion of the surface mining on Cut 3, which was achieved in approximately three weeks, rather than the expected 10 weeks required by use of the conventional method using multiple large excavators with attachments.

The benefits of surface mining being able to mill the material into a smaller size for transporting off-site has been noted by the clients, due to its significant reduction in the number of trucks required. The need for fewer vehicles is an advantage to site safety in daily operations.

Further information

Visit our photo gallery to view more images of the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track Project.

For more information about this and other UEA Civil & Mining projects, please email Lee McCourt.