Inland Rail hot topic for state by-election
The case for an inland rail route through Narrandera has re-opened, with Nationals’ candidate for Murray Austin Evans pledging his support for a route through the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA).
The Murray and Cootamundra candidates for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Helen Dalton and Matthew Stadtmiller, have also voiced their support for Mr Evans’ proposal.
Mr Evans told a press conference that he had voted for and backed the idea when he was a member of the Murrumbidgee council.
“I supported the motion at the local government conference for the inland route, and that got passed at the local government conference last year. It’s certainly something the councils in this region have been fighting hard for,” Mr Evans said. “You fight where you can. I’m here to look after this region. The western route is the preferred option for us out here; we’d love to see that, and we’ll still push to fight for that western route.”
“But whichever route it goes the important thing is that we get good connections to that inland rail route, to be able to get our goods out of this region to markets,” Mr Evans said.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party say that while Mr Evans deserves credit for his statement, they “know a good idea when they see it.”
“We looked at the route, and we think it’s better going through Narrandera,” said Mr Stadtmiller, who gave a conference last Wednesday on the topic at the Narrandera Rail Station. “Narrandera is the gateway to the MIA. It’s something like eight times as much food could be transported on rail.”
Estimates from company Deloitte project that 200,000 tonnes of produce could be moved annually through the Wagga/Albury route, versus the 1,600,000 tonnes that could be transported through the MIA route.
“It is the food bowl of Australia, the MIA. It just makes sense to go through there,” he said.
Mr Stadtmiller said he also believes it made more economic sense to go through the MIA.
“The other point is the gradient from Shepparton to Narrandera is lower, so it would be cheaper on fuel. There’s less tunnels and bridges out that way, so you can double-stack containers. It would save costs,” Mr Stadtmiller said.