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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
BREAKING ground on inland rail is vital to agriculture’s competitiveness and must take precedence over its route through Victoria, the National Farmers’ Federation says.
With the Federal Government wrapping up market testing of private sector interest in building the Melbourne-Brisbane inland freight rail this month, the NFF focus is seeing it built as soon as possible.
More than 40 national and international investors and developers expressed interest, including private consortium National Trunk Rail — whose $13 billion proposal rivals that of the $10-billion, Government-preferred Australian Rail Track Corporation route.
NTR’s 1600-km track would build a new line through Shepparton-Tocumwal-Narrandera — the “future food-bowl” — while the ARTC’s 1700-km route would use the existing Melbourne-Albury line.
But NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said the first priority “is getting it done — fighting over Shepparton or Albury is second to that”.
Murray MP Damian Drum said he would keep advocating for a Shepparton route, but noted the critical part of getting the project started was the route into Brisbane, where new track must be constructed.
“It may mean in the early stages they use the northeast line, and work could continue to be done on bringing the line through Shepparton,” he said.
“Ideally I’d like it to begin from day one (through Shepparton), but if it doesn’t work out ... I think there’ll be a push to have the Goulburn Valley become part of inland rail in the future.”
Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester said the market testing called for the rail route to be “broadly consistent” with the ARTC’s proposal, with room for amendments.
“The final decision on the inland rail route will be informed by decisions on the delivery and financing of inland rail,” Mr Chester said.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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