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A feasibility study to investigate the construction of a railway between the town of Katherine, in the Northern Territory, and Kununurra, in Western Australia, will be commissioned by the NT government.
The potential for such a project has been floated before, to support the Ord Stage 3 development in the Northern Territory.
NT Minister for Transport, Peter Chandler said a railway would have benefits for both Western Australia and the NT.
"Projects like Sea Dragon, the Ord and of course the Katherine region itself, all benefit from a railway line that could run across there, connecting with the north-south railway," he said.
Mr Chandler said a rail line linking the Top End with the Kimberley, alongside the proposed Tennant Creek to Mt Isa line, would see much of northern Australia connected through rail.
"Of course if the rail goes across from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa, you really are starting to have a solid transport network across the Top End, ensuring the network is created to cater 365 days a year.
"So even on the wettest wet, we can still get in and out of these places, that is a real game changer for the north."
Mr Chandler said he expected a feasibility study into building the railway to begin before the end of the year.
"Depending on what the outcome of what that study shows, I'm confident that in years to come, with growing northern Australia it is the next big link that we need in our rail system," Mr Chandler said.
"If we are going to put $680 million into sealing the Tanami, and that may take five to ten years to do it, we should also be looking at rail to go across the Top End into WA.
"I think sometimes you have to have a bit of vision and a little bit of faith too.
"If the Western Australian government is serious about growing the north, these are the sorts of infrastructure projects we have got to commit to, to demonstrate quite clearly that we are serious and we want to see the north develop.
"When we are looking at this we shouldn't be just looking in a stovepipe view of the Territory, we should be looking at this as northern Australia and how we can support growing the north."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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