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The new chair of Victorian lobby group, Rail Freight Alliance, has backed plans to reinstate a rail freight service between Heywood and Mount Gambier, SA.
Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast (RDLAC) has released a CSIRO report, showing reinstating the service could benefit local businesses by as much as $15.6million annually.
The RFA"s new chair, Glenelg Shire mayor, Cr Anita Rank, said she was at the launch of the proposal, which was very well received.
"I think it's very visionary for people to be looking at reopening freight lines, you should never say never," Cr Rank said.
"Even if it's closed down now, if it becomes viable to reopen the line, we should advocate for infrastructure and rail upgrades."
Cr Rank was formerly the deputy chair of RFA, an alliance for rural, regional and metropolitan councils across Victoria, which advocates for greater investment in rail freight.
"It's about making roads safer, by taking trucks off them
"It would open up the south-west of Victoria and south-east of South Australia, and we are also talking about the potential of linking into Inland Rail."
CSIRO which used modelling to map the region's freight task and supply chains for major commodities including timber, livestock, dairy products and crops.
RDALC chair, Peter Gandolfi said the report showed that reinstating the rail line along the currently unused rail corridor, from the eastern outskirts of Mount Gambier to the existing rail services at Heywood, would open the door for products from the region to more efficiently reach major Australian markets and ports.
"This report has critically analysed the volume, variety and movement of the commodities in our region so we can understand our region's freight demand and supply chains and the opportunity for rail in the Limestone Coast," Mr Gandolfi said.
"This analysis estimated road and rail transport costs for major commodities moving across and out of our region.
"Crucial to the process was identifying where potential savings can be made through reinstating rail for current and future freight demands."
The report showed about 527,000 truck movements used at least part of the Limestone Coast region's transport network.
" Of these about 476,000 movements originate in or are destined for the region," said Mr Gandolfi.
"A further $1.5 million in savings each year has been identified through reduced road maintenance and avoided accidents," Mr Gandolfi said.
The RDALC has conservatively estimated that an investment of between $120 and $150 million to reinvigorate the line between Mount Gambier and Heywood would offer a return on investment within nine years.
The investment would also include establishing a freight depot (intermodal) on the eastern outskirts of Mount Gambier, from where the rail would be re-instated along the existing corridor to Heywood.
The reinstatement of the line between Mount Gambier and Wolseley was evaluated by CSIRO but was found to have a very low economic benefit to the region and incur a much greater cost to reinstate than the Heywood line.
This article first appeared on www.stockandland.com.au
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