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The Nationals’ Cootamundra by-election candidate Stephanie Cooke says a freight hub at Junee is “very much on the table” as details of how the Inland Rail will look begin to emerge.
“It’s well known that under the Inland Rail project there’s a link between Illabo and Stockinbingal and it’s my view this opens up an opportunity for a freight hub in the Junee area,” Ms Cooke said.
She said there’s “an active, live discussion at Nationals’ state level” looking at placing a hub in the shire.
“It makes logistical, logical sense because of the location, the proximity to farmers’ and growers’ produce and of course Junee’s history as a rail town,” she said.
“I will fight for it and any rail projects that bring jobs to Junee”.
The Inland Rail project will link Melbourne and Brisbane by rail – using the main line which runs through the eastern Riverina, including Wagga, Junee and Cootamundra and bypassing the Sydney bottleneck.
The government claim around 16,000 jobs will be created at the peak of construction and another 700 jobs every year once Inland Rail is operational.
They’ve committed to resource construction and operational jobs from the 13 projects across three states with locals.
Ms Cooke said the development of a hub would create a host of new jobs not just in the infrastructure phase but on an ongoing basis, flagging the possibility of an Australian Rail Track Corporation office in Junee.
The ARTC is a government owned corporation appointed to deliver Inland Rail in partnership with the private sector.
Ms Cooke confirmed by the end of October, the mandate negotiation between federal and state governments and the ARTC will be resolved.
“From November onward there will be great clarity on an ARTC office in Junee as a primary point of rail construction in the area,” Ms Cooke said.
The ARTC manage and maintain an 8,500 km rail network across five states with the closest office currently located in Wagga.
The 32 kms of new track between Illabo and Stockinbingal are currently in the feasibility stage.
The Albury to Illabo link will be served by the existing track, however some bridges will require upgrading to be suitable for double-stacked containers.
A motion to “actively approach the Hon Michael McCormack, the Hon Darren Chester and ARTC-Inland Rail to ascertain where and when they are contemplating replacing the Kemp Street Bridge over the railway line,” was passed by Junee Shire Council at the August ordinary meeting.
Early works are due to start this year with ARTC releasing the first Environmental Impact Statement for the Parkes to Narromine project on July 19 for public comment.
This article first appeared on www.juneesoutherncross.com.au
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