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Freight trains will officially come through Albury-Wodonga as part of the inland rail project after the federal government released preferred its full preferred route.
The Border’s involvement was announced in the May budget, but the confirmation dismissed a fight from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party to have the route pass through Narrandera instead.
Cootmundra by-election candidate Matthew Stadtmiller said he would have backed the Narrandera option in Parliament if elected.
“Narrandera to Melbourne is only 485 kilometres, compared with 647 kilometres via Albury and Wagga Wagga – the route would be faster, more efficient and save more fuel because of the flatter geography and lower gradient,” he said.
“The lack of tunnels and bridges on the Narrandera to Melbourne route would also allow double-stacking of shipping containers.
“This overcomes one of the major drawbacks on the Wagga and Albury route.”
Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said the announced route $8.4 billion inland rail project was the right decision.
“The final design will be subject to an extensive State government planning and approvals process, which will work through questions about technical and environmental aspects,” he said.
“The inland rail project will generate billions of dollars in economic growth, create 16,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and will make our roads safer by transferring freight from thousands of trucks to rail.”
Farrer MP Sussan Ley was not worried about any challenges to take the route away from the Border after it was announced in May.
"What we are now doing is investigating rail links from other parts of the Riverina to take advantage of streamlined rail freight options," she said.
"This work is already underway, so I would have to say this is really a bit of catch-up politics from the Shooters candidate."
She also discussed inland rail with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a visit to Ettamogah last month.
“The inland rail that’s coming to Albury is primarily freight,” Ms Ley said at the time.
“We are absolutely delighted that not only will we have a Melbourne-Brisbane freight line, but we will have the necessary linkages from the food-bowls of the Riverina and North East Victoria linking with that rail line.
“It’s very exciting”.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan said confirmation of the inland rail route through Wodonga was also good news for passenger rail services.
“This project will have a direct benefit for passenger rail through investment in the North East rail line infrastructure,” she said.
“I will continue to have regular meetings with the Minister for Transport Darren Chester.
“My priority is to keep the government to its commitments on improving rail services in North East Victoria.”
The “faster rail prospectus”, released by the federal government this week, also listed the Albury-Wodonga to Melbourne passenger rail corridor as one that had potential to expand over time.
This article first appeared on www.bordermail.com.au
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