A BUILD, own, operate and transfer contract for the 1,420km rail link joining Alice Springs and Darwin in Australia was signed last week.
The A$1bn ($548M) crossdesert link will take three years to build, employing 2,000 people. It will require 2.3M sleepers, 155,000t of ballast and the construction of over 100 bridges and 1,500 culverts.
The Asia Pacific Transport consortium involves Barclay Mowlem, the Australian subsidiary of contractor John Mowlem, and project manager Halliburton/Brown & Root.
On completion, the link will connect Adelaide on Australia's south coast to Darwin, on the north coast, cutting freight delivery time from Adelaide to key Asian centres such as Tokyo, by up to 11 days.
One of the first stages of the contract is to construct a new sleeper factory at Tennant Creek in Northern Territory.
This will be able to produce 2,400 concrete sleepers a day.
Camps will be established in the more remote areas at 100km intervals to accommodate workers. Work is expected to start later this month.