Steph Cooke stands with five people on a railway platform.

The NSW Government has taken another step towards improving rail freight efficiency in the state’s south west with design and planning work starting on a rail passing loop at Coolamon.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the $11.66 million project funded through the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Rail Program will extend the current 900 metre loop to 1500 metres, improving access for modern, heavier freight trains.

“The extension of the loop is important to improving the efficiency of freight movements and is part of wider upgrades being carried out on the Junee to Griffith rail line to ensure a stronger and safer regional NSW,” Mr Toole said.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the extension to the loop will mean longer trains can be taken off the main line while they are being loaded allowing other rail traffic to pass by unimpeded.

“It will mean a better run, around facilities at the GrainCorp and Emerald Grain loading sites and will allow the XPT to pass by without delays on the Junee-Griffith main line,” Ms Cooke said.

“We are also upgrading the sleepers and drainage, and building a new turnout with around 60 people to be employed during work to build the loop, which is expected to start early to mid-next year.”

The NSW Government is investing $400 million through the Fixing Country Rail program to unlock the economic potential of regional NSW by upgrading rail lines to take increased loads, longer sidings and loops to accommodate longer trains and freeing up mainline operations and some branch reactivations.

So far, 33 projects have been funded through Fixing Country Rail.

For more information on Fixing Country Rail projects, visit https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/operations/freight-hub