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Sourcing critical railway upgrade funding needs cool heads and smart solutions
The state of the Townsville-Mount Isa rail line is a disgrace and jobs could be lost unless immediate attention is taken.
An economic impact statement undertaken by AEC has revealed if the proposed Mount Isa to Darwin Railway proceeds, Townsville could lose trade from the North West Minerals Province.
A new line to Darwin would mean traffic is diverted from the Townsville to Mount Isa line, also known as the Great Northern Railway.
The railway line consists of more than 900km of track, extending from Stuart near Townsville to Mount Isa.
The supply chain is considered a major driver of economic activity within the Townsville region. Copper, lead, zinc, silver and phosphate rock are transported to Townsville for export.
The loss of business to Darwin could halve the Port of Townsville’s trade and put 900 local jobs at risk. This is unacceptable, particularly at a time of such high unemployment in Townsville.
It will also be a major blow to the Townsville economy with the NWMP exporting about $4 billion in mineral commodities through Townsville’s port.
Without the movement of freight to and from the west, the economic revival of Townsville would be curtailed.
Railway infrastructure isn’t considered sexy. It’s not a new stadium or water park. But it’s the backbone of our economy.
It’s clear the rail line has been neglected by successive governments.
It’s in urgent need of investment to ensure it remains a viable option.
For generations, rail has played a vital role in the movement of heavy materials. Trains are more efficient than trucks and save our highways from undue damage.
Perhaps maintenance and upgrading of the Mount Isa line should be done as part of the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor project, which promises to revolutionise rail access to our port and take trains out of our suburbs.
It’s about time some serious action began to happen to get this city-building project under way.
This article first appeared on www.townsvillebulletin.com.au
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