Government starts new rail line study

Steph Cooke MP, pictured on the closed Blayney to Demondrille line.
Steph Cooke MP, pictured on the closed Blayney to Demondrille line.

After years of discussion, the reopening of Central West rail lines may be one step closer after the announcement of a new study.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke, said a study looking into the feasibility of reopening lines from Blayney to Demondrille, Cowra to Eugowra, and Koorawatha to Grenfell had commenced.

Ms Cooke said the study would look at engineering requirements for reinstating the rail line as a whole, consider freight industry demand, maintenance costs, as well as land use and environmental planning issues.

"The commencement of this study exploring the feasibility of reopening the Cowra Lines as a whole is incredibly welcome," she said.

"It's an absolute priority for Cowra, Weddin and Hilltops, Forbes and Blayney Councils and I have advocated strongly for this since I became Member.

"The study will take a full picture approach which previous studies haven't, looking at the strategic link between the main western and southern line and the potential to leverage freight as a whole with Inland Rail.

"The Cowra lines feasibility study is one of four feasibility studies funded under the Fixing Country Rail program and is set to be completed by early 2020," Ms Cooke added.

Cowra Shire Council was given a significant role in the study, with Council nominated as the lead Council for the purposes of the study, to coordinate communication between the five Councils and Transport NSW.

Mayor of Cowra Bill West welcomed the expanded scope of the study.

"It is pleasing to see this feasibility study being undertaken," he said.

"Whilst freight volume is important, it is vital to note that this study will look at issues around the strategic benefits of linking the southern and western line, reducing congestion on the western line and through the Sydney corridor, as well as benefits to Lachlan Valley Rail."

Support for the reopening of the lines have come from as high as the former Australian Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer who urged it was, "time to get on with it," in relation to the reopening.