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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 6

I Construction During The Settlement Years

II The Use Of Timber As A Structural Material

III Structural Steel

IV Concrete Technology

V Housing

VI Industrialised Pre-cast Concrete Housing

VII Ports And Harbours

VIII Roads

IX Heavy Foundations

X Bridges

XI Sewerage

XII Water Engineering

XIII Railways
i Factors Impeding Developments
ii Railway Sleepers
iii Rail Tracks
iv Some Interesting Railway Projects
v Tarcoola-Alice Springs Railway
vi The Conversion to Standard Gauge
vii Railways in the Pilbara
viii Railways in the Coal Fields of Queensland
ix The Melbourne Underground Railway Loop

XIV Major Buildings

XV Airports

XVI Thermal Power Stations

XVII Materials Handling

XVIII Oil Industry

XIX The Snowy Mountains Scheme

XX The Sydney Opera House

XXI The Sydney Harbour Bridge

XXII Hamersley Iron

XXIII North West Shelf

Sources and References


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Tarcoola-Alice Springs Railway

The construction, by Australian National, of the 831 km standard gauge railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs, between 1975 and 1980, was the largest single railway project undertaken in Australia since completion of the east-west Trans-Australian line in 1917. The project was also the first in Australia to be planned and designed in metric units; the survey and design which began during 1970/71 used metric units in anticipation of the change from the old Imperial system. The Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway replaced the old narrow gauge line between Marree and Alice Springs via Oodnadatta, which was of light construction and prone to frequent flooding and washaway damage, because of its location through the lower Lake Eyre drainage system. The new route is approximately 150 km west of the old line, generally outside or near the edge of the Lake Eyre basin. Although it avoided many of the streams crossed by the old line, it required the construction of 52 bridges, including two major structures of multiple 30 metre spans over the Finke and Hugh Rivers.

The construction of earthworks, bridges and culverts and terminal facilities at Alice Springs, was carried out under a series of contracts by Australian construction firms. Other contracts covered the supply and installation of an integrated microwave/VHF communications system, covering the full length of the route. In the largest application of solar power in Australia, 23 of the 28 repeater stations used solar electric power generation for equipment operation. The track structure comprised continuously welded rails on prestressed concrete sleepers and crushed rock ballast. Tracklaying was carried out by Australian National, using innovative procedures for efficient handling of the long rails and rail-mounted gantries for sleeper laying. The rails were brought into precise thermal adjustment, by stressing at the time of laying and welding into continuous lengths.

The South Australian division of The Institution of Engineers, Australia, gave its 1979 Engineering Award to the Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway project as:

considered to be a major engineering concept, executed in inhospitable conditions within budget and ahead of time, with due regard to conservation both of energy and of the fragile environment surrounding the project, which itself will be a major benefit to the community at large and South Australia in particular.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian National Railways; Institution of Engineers, Australia

People in Bright Sparcs - Connell, J. W.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 378, Online Edition 2000
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