The Orange Rail Action Group has welcomed a state government move to build two train passing loops on the western line to improve rail reliability.
The $21.5 million project announced on Thursday will see the 1.8 kilometre loops built between Lithgow and Blayney.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said it would mean trains of up to 1.5 kilometres long could pull into the passing loops to allow faster trains to pass.
“The loops, about three kilometres south of Rydal and immediately west of Georges Plains, will mean more passenger trains like the Bathurst Bullet, the Central West XPT, as well as the Indian Pacific and Broken Hill Xplorer passenger services will no longer be held up on the line,” he said.
ORAG spokesman Peter Bilenkij said the group was “delighted” with the news.
“We applaud the initiative of the government,” he said.
“Freight trains and passenger trains can pass each so schedules can be improved.”
However, Mr Bilenkij said much more work was needed to upgrade the track between Blayney and Bathurst to a standard that would make considerable savings in passenger train times.
He said the government needed to straighten four sections of tight curves around Newbridge.
Mr Bilenkij said trains had to slow down to 40-50 km/h on these sections when they should be travelling at 100 km/h.
He said other tight sections near Brewongle and Tarana also needed to be improved.
“The train has to slow down in these sections otherwise it would fly off the track,” he said.
“We are left with the legacy of the 1920’s track.
“There were built to allow the freight trains at the turn of the century to climb up the hills.”
Freight minister Melinda Pavey said trains sometimes waited for up to 30 minutes to pass each other.
“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,” she said.
Managing director of Bathurst transport business Grainforce, Derek Larnach, said delayed trains could lead to his company missing dock loading times.
The loops are expected to be open early next year.