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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
The proposed Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail line won't necessarily help local farmers get their produce to market.
Much of the 1,800 kilometre route will run though country New South Wales.
But Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss says branch lines (small lines that connect to the main rail line) are unlikely to be funded by the private sector investors who are integral to the $5 billion project project.
He says it will be those investors that decide if branch lines would be viable.
"The ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) is already managing some of the branch network in NSW, including the highly profitable coal lines," said Mr Truss.
"We will be very keen to encourage private sector investment wherever we can."
Mr Truss admits there will only be investment where there is money to be made.
"The private sector is only going to invest in projects that are going to deliver a financial return.
"Some of the country branch lines do not have a very good record of being able to return a profit to the rail operators.
"The private sector is less interested in those sorts of projects because they can't get a return on their investment."
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is more optimistic.
He says a rail line would increase farmers' capacity to get produce to an intermodal hub.
"We'd have the capacity to deliver goods in such a form so we can get them on the inland rail and get them moving to a multiplicity of ports, said Mr Joyce.
"Once we get the big rail line working, the viability of the smaller lines picks up."
Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss says construction of parts of the rail line could begin as early as next year.
He says the government has invested $300 million to finalise the route and begin land acquisition, a process the Coalition hopes to complete by the end of the government's first term.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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