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Cowra mayor Bill West, who has been involved in the push to re-open the 180km section of rail line between Blayney and Demondrille near Harden since 2009, is hopeful the state government is close to making a decision on the line’s future.
Cr West said he has been told the latest report on the line’s future is currently in the hands of the NSW government.
“We’re now just waiting for comment (from the government), “ Cr West said.”
Before it was shut down the Blayney-Demondrille line served the Blayney, Cowra and Young area and provided a vital connection between the main Western and Southern Lines and rail access from the Central West to Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla.
The state government cut maintenance of the line between 2007 and 2009 before finally closing it down.
Cr West believes changes to the business plan have strengthened the case for re-opening the line.
“Real focus this time around is the addition of vital consideration of the strategic importance of the line to the region and state,” Cr West said.
“Previously we weren’t allowed to use Lachlan Valley Rail (LVR) as a potential user of the line, we can use it now,” Cr West said.
“The strategic importance of the connection between the Southern and Western line, we can use that now.
“The state government is showing interest in the full business case and looking at linking the southern and western lines,” Cr West said.
Closure of the section of line between Cowra and Blayney left LVR stranded in Cowra with it unable to move any of its rolling stock based at the Cowra Locomotive Depot.
The organisation has since set up a base in Orange.
"We're still pushing the financial, social, and economic benefits of the re-opening of the line, and also the strategic importance of freight corridors," Cr West said in a statement released last year.
"These include removing heavy vehicles off our congested roads; better access to and from Sydney markets and ports for country producers; safer transport; reduced energy use and pollution; and less congestion on the Sydney-Blue Mountains line," Cr West said.
Cowra, along with Blayney, Hilltops and Weddin Council have all been involved in the push to re-open the line.
Stuart Sutherland, Managing Director of Lycopodium Infrastructure, the company hired to complete the study told Fairfax Media last year that rail lines are a long-term asset and that the track was in fairly good condition.
“Much of the components are steel, so as I suspect it’s in reasonable condition and though there are parts that have washed away, that’s just some earthworks and some culverts,” he said.
The NSW Labor Party has backed the plan to re-open the line, saying money allocated to the rail project would be well-spent.
Multiple reports on the case for the line to be open have been completed, the first in 2009 when the line closed.
This article first appeared on www.cowraguardian.com.au
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