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Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay today announced the NSW Government is calling for tenders from the private sector to reopen the ‘Cowra Lines’, 200 kilometres of non-operational rail lines between Blayney and Harden, and Koorawatha and Greenthorpe.
Minister Gay said a successful tenderer would be granted exclusive rights to restore, operate and maintain the Cowra Lines.
The intent is that the Cowra Lines would be run on a commercially sustainable basis, under a fixed term licence.
“There is strong local support for re-opening the Cowra Lines and we’ve been working closely with the Blayney, Cowra, Weddin, Harden and Young councils in the NSW Central West to gauge whether there is any commercial interest in the project,” Minister Gay said.
“Industry response to our registration of interest process in late 2013 was promising and resulted in our decision to now move to open tender.
“With this tender, we have proposed an innovative, market-based model which will mean the private sector will fund the Cowra Lines and manage the risk of this investment.
“This commercial approach will help ensure there is sustainable demand for freight on these lines.”
Minister Gay said Transport for NSW’s collaboration with local councils on the tender means that if re-opened, the Cowra Lines would be better connected with local roads and intermodal terminals, creating a more integrated freight transport network across the region.
“The movement of freight is critical for economic growth in NSW. Improving the coordination of regional infrastructure is a key action area of the NSW Freight and Ports Strategy and we’re committed to supporting projects in regional areas that help deliver goods to market faster and more efficiently,” he said.
“We’re very excited at the prospect of re-opening the Cowra Lines and their potential to contribute to the local economies across the region.
“This tender could provide extra freight capacity where the private sector views demand to be most viable. If successful we may look to apply this model to other regional road and rail infrastructure projects across the state.”
The tender will open on 24 March 2014 and the deadline for responses is 2pm on 25 July 2014. More information is available on the NSW eTendering website at tenders.nsw.gov.au.
Transport for NSW will also host a public briefing for prospective tenderers on 8 April in Cowra.
This article first appeared on www.cowraguardian.com.au
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