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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
WAGGA and Albury will reap the rewards of the long-awaited inland rail freight line between Melbourne and Brisbane – but Griffith is set to be snubbed.
The federal government looks poised to reject a proposed rail line passing through Shepparton and the MIA, instead opting to upgrade century-old rail tracks.
Construction of two new railway bridges in regional NSW was announced by the NSW government this week, indicating works on the highly-touted project will soon begin.
Upon the infrastructure’s completion, farmers will be able to send their produce to the ports – and ultimately overseas – much faster.
Private consortium National Trunk Rail (NTR) has offered to build a $13 billion high speed standard gauge system through Shepparton and Narrandera, but a government-owned corporation will likely be awarded the contract.
Chairman of NTR Martin Albrecht believes the project will be a financial failure.
“You build a rail system for the 21st century, not for an election cycle,” he said.
“Upgrading depleting old rail networks never works, they tried it in Britain and it was a disaster.
“You need to build it from scratch or else this is going to be the NBN all over again.”
He also doubts the Wagga route will be cheaper in the long run, claiming the government has not been transparent about the total cost.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month reaffirmed his commitment to building the freight railway through Wagga.
The federal government stumped up $594 million in the 2016-17 budget to purchase the land for the 1700 kilometre line from Brisbane to Melbourne.
It is estimated the route through Wagga and Albury will cost approximately $10 billion.
David Carter, an Illabo harvester for more than 40 years, is still skeptical about the future of the infrastructure.
He said the inland rail, “if done right”, would provide a huge relief to struggling local farmers.
“They’ve shown that they’re serious about it but now they have to put up, because a lot of things eventually fall on deaf ears and never end up getting done,” he said.
“To be able to bring fruit, veges and produce in the containers and transport them to the ports by rail would be quicker, cheaper and revolutionary for us.
“This will be a huge weight off the shoulders of Riverina farmers in the long term – if it comes to fruition.”
Despite the hefty price-tag, NSW Farmers Association have also welcomed the decision to push forward with the rail project, describing it as “a step into the future”.
“It would be a huge break for farmers,” president of NSW Farmers’ Association Derek Schoen said.
This article first appeared on www.dailyadvertiser.com.au
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