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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3571

Mr Bennett asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice: What is the-

(a)   Comparative purchase price;

(b)   life expectancy;

(c)   maintenance cost per kilometre and

(d)   safety record of

1.   Concrete and

2.   Timber sleepers.

Mr Charles Jones - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a)   Because the prices offered by unsuccessful tenderers must remain confidential I am unable to provide a detailed breakdown of prices.

On the basis of 133 kilometres of track the BTE report showed concrete $1.2m cheaper in terms of contract price and $1.9m cheaper in terms of cost delivered to site with fittings than 225 millimetre by 150 millimetre treated Jarrah sleepers.

(b)   Concrete sleepers have been assumed in BTE report to have a life if 50 years. Evidence now coming to hand indicated that in practice this will be exceeded.

Timber (treated Jarrah) sleepers have been assumed to have a life of 30 years but this now appears to be somewhat optimistic.

(c)   Present value of maintenance costs over 50 years discounted to base year at 7 per cent for concrete sleeper track $25,000 per kilometre and for treated timber sleeper track $63,500 per kilometre.

(d)   The safety record of concrete sleeper track in Great Britain is very good.

Between Port Augusta and Whyalla in South Australia the concrete sleeper track brought into service just before the summer of 1972-73 has given no trouble. Indeed measurements taken before and after the summer period showed no deterioration in the alignment of the track.

There have been no derailments on the Whyalla line whereas experience has been that new railway lines such as Port Pirie to Broken Hill built with timber sleepers have suffered derailments where the suspected cause was buckling of the track in hot weather.

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