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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
HOPE of an alternative inland rail route through Victoria and NSW’s food bowl has been rejuvenated as the Federal Government investigates the landmark project in earnest.
Private consortium National Trunk Rail will be pitching its proposal for a freight route through Shepparton to Narrandera, now registrations for private sector involvement in the multi-billion-dollar project are open.
Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester opened the market-testing process last week. The Government has committed $594 million to buy land for the rail corridor — but that is subject to equity funding, after private sector appetite has been gauged.
NTR director Jon Grayson said it was only interested in being part of inland rail — but warned there were “fundamental principles” from which it would not budge.
“Maximising efficiencies, getting the earliest possible completion dates and early revenue streams — we couldn’t walk away from that, but, then, I’m not sure why the Government would want to walk away from that either,” Mr Grayson said.
NTR’s 1600km track would cost $13 billion, cross the Victoria-NSW border at Tocumwal, and be built largely from new infrastructure.
It has the backing of Shepparton council and several NSW councils, and would take six years to build, after planning and environmental approvals (which could take at least two years alone).
In contrast, the ARTC proposal — the Government’s preferred route — includes a 1700km track costing $10 billion over 10 years, largely relying on the existing Melbourne-Albury-Wagga Wagga route.
Mr Grayson said building the infrastructure from scratch meant NTR could choose the most direct route.
“We can get efficiencies that you can’t get out of cobbling old and new infrastructure,” he said.
A Deloitte report has shown the NTR route would serve the area of highest use, reaching demand of 1.757 million tonnes a year by 2025, compared with the Albury route’s 220,000 tonnes.
“There’s potential for new industries or existing agricultural businesses to increase production as a result of an efficient transport route, and that goes toward capitalising on things like our free-trade agreements,” Mr Grayson said.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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