Crucial rail link between SA, NT and WA reopens after historic flooding

After being closed for more than three weeks following historic rainfall in South Australia’s north, the vital railway connecting supply chains between Adelaide, Western Australia and the Northern Territory has reopened.

Nine freight trains destined for Darwin, Alice Springs and Perth left in the early hours of this morning.

According to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), the first train will arrive in Berrimah tomorrow at 6:10pm.

ARTC corporate affairs general manager Anthony Meere said it had been a mammoth repair effort by road and rail crews.

“What we saw was a 300-kilometre stretch of track with 18 damaged locations,” he said.

“Our crews had to work in some pretty oppressive conditions, both humidity and – in the past week or two – some really hot conditions in the middle of SA.

A drone shot of an excavator working on a damaged rail line.
Huge sections of the line near Tarcoola were damaged by floodwaters.,Supplied: ARTC,

Mr Meere said despite a considerable backlog of goods in Adelaide, the sheer length of the trains meant it would not be long before everything had caught up.

“Working with this size of freight train, 1.5 to 1.8km long, basically you’re able to move a lot of goods,” he said.

This is good news for Northern Territory residents who have felt the full extent of the issues caused by the damage to the line.

Mail trucks being loaded with parcels.
Remote residents can hardly wait for the mail to arrive.,Supplied: Australia Post,

Mail on the move

With the Stuart Highway and the rail line closed for so long, Australia Post had to stockpile almost three weeks’ worth of mail in Adelaide.

“We’ve got about 1,000 pallet sizes of parcel posts that have been delayed and would normally come up by rail,” NT manager Fiona McKenzie said.

Australia Post said it started to send the delayed parcels when the Stuart Highway reopened late last week.

For those on remote cattle stations like Kiya Gill at Jervois Station, 350km north-east of Alice Springs, the news comes as a big relief.

“It’s the highlight of our week, because it’s such a connection with the outside world,” Ms Gill said.

“Whether you’re waiting on medical supplies, stores or online purchases, it’s just something we rely on so much.

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