Experts have begun looking at fish, insects and water organisms as part of the preparation work for the Maldon-Dombarton rail link.
Teams of specialist engineers, environmental advisors and heritage experts have begun work on the project to identify any issues that may be associated with the proposed track.
The engineering team will assess the structural integrity of the line’s partially constructed sections.
Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay said ecologists were inspecting the flora and fauna and monitoring nocturnal activity.
“Aquatic ecologists are looking at the fish, insects and water organisms in the nearby creeks, rivers and waterholes while a team of heritage experts are reviewing Aboriginal heritage within the study area,” Mr Gay said.
“The engineering team is focussing on design and related safety issues associated with operating diesel hauled freight trains through a four kilometre long tunnel.
“They are also surveying the connecting ends of the line, assessing the condition of the embankments, drainage and cuttings and potential construction sites along the corridor.”
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the work will help ensure the project is ready to proceed should funding become available from the Federal Government’s next road and rail construction program due to start in mid-2014.
‘‘The work of the consultants will be vital to securing the necessary planning and environmental approvals,” Mr Albanese said.
The Maldon to Dombarton rail link would involve laying 35km of standard gauge track connecting Port Kembla directly to the Main North South Line via Dombarton and include two passing loops, new bridges over the Nepean and Cordeaux Rivers and one of Australia’s longest tunnels.