Proposed reopening of the Blayney–Demondrille rail corridor is back on track with a new study to examine likely costs of re-opening of the line, Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West has said.
The study has been commissioned by the four councils covered by the line, Cowra, Blayney, Hilltops, and Weddin, and will be completed by specialist rail consultants, The Lycopodium Group by late March.
“The State Government has already set-aside $5 million to reopen the 36km Demondrille to Mairmuru section of the track, we’re asking the consultants to see how much extra, if any, reopening the whole 200km would cost,” Cr West said.
“We could look at re-opening the line in stages so as to build-up commercial demand for the line; we believe there is a compelling commercial case for this line to reduce freight bottlenecks through the Blue Mountains to Port Kembla and Port Botany.
“What business, local or multinational, will dare commit to utilisation of rail unless they know that the long-term viability of the line is guaranteed?” Cr West said. “Our view is that, ‘if you rebuild it, they will come!’ It’s time for the State Government to take a leap of faith on rural infrastructure for a change.
“Once the assessment has been completed, we will be taking it to the new Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey and making the case for our part of the State to get some of the infrastructure spend in NSW.”
Cr West said that benefits of reopening the line include: providing important infrastructure for over 40,000 people; meeting an exponentially growing transport demand for mining and agricultural products; and diverting freight traffic from increasingly congested Sydney rail networks.
“Other benefits include providing an alternate freight route for Port Kembla for exports and imports; mitigating impacts on the environment and public safety from heavy mass vehicles, and providing the opportunity for complementary infrastructure such as intermodal terminals, rail engineering and provide access for popular heritage listed rail services operated by Lachlan Valley Railway,” Cr West said.
“The councils and their electorate remain resolute to pursue the re-opening of the ‘Cowra Rail Lines’ as it is a key to unlocking regional economic development for our communities. Without rail access our economies in the region may remain stifled, unable to grow and develop to its full potential.”