Rail freight upgrade

Narrandera Shire Mayor Neville Kschenka, member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke, Leeton Mayor Paul Maytom, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey, Mayor of Junee Neil Smith and Member for Murray Austin Evans.

The NSW Government yesterday announced funding worth $60 million for an  upgrade to the Griffith to Junee rail line. The upgrade to 174km of track will allow for 25 tonne axle trains to travel  between Griffith and Junee and would also join with the proposed  Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail line, which will go through Wagga and Junee.

The Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, announced the project yesterday in Leeton with the Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke and the Member for Murray Austin  Evans.

Ms Pavey made the announcement at the Leeton Railway Station in front of mayors of the towns which are set to benefit, including Narrandera Shire Council  Mayor Cr Neville Kschenka.“The increased axle loads will mean line speeds will increase from 50km/h to 80km/ h,” Mrs Pavey said. “This will cut delivery times, allow more goods to be transported by rail and reduce costs for producers and consumers.”

The project will allow greater opportunities for Riverina farmers to move produce for export. “It’s just sensible investment, so producers and businesses in the Riverina will benefit from a more efficient and lower cost logistics chain, improving their domestic and international competitiveness, as well as create benefits to our consumers at the till of their local supermarkets,” Ms Cooke said. She said the project would enable rail freight operators to use heavier locomotives to operate without a fuel carrying limitation.

Mr Evans said the project will pull 200,000 tonnes of freight off the road. Funding for the project will have flow on benefits, not only allowing for greater investment and profitability in the agricultural sector, but also increasing public safety and reducing pollutants.

Freight On Rail Group (FORG) of Australia Chair Dean Dalla Valle said programs like the NSW Government’s $400 million Fixing  Country Rail initiative and the Australian Government’s $10 billion Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project signalled the start of a ‘rail renaissance’ in Australia.

“Moving bulk freight by rail is safer, more efficient and cleaner than road – a typical freight train hauling containers takes up to 65 B-doubles off the road, while rail freight produces 16 times less carbon pollution per tonne kilometre than road,” said Mr Dalla Valle. “Australian farmers and  exporters operate in fiercely competitive global markets – our rail freight networks must be efficient so the price of our products and commodities appeal to buyers and consumers around the world.”

The Fixing Country Rail Program aims to relieve bottlenecks by upgrading parts  of the regional rail network which are constraining effective freight movement. “This is a great win for the communities in the Riverina.

Our roads will be much safer and will also mean capacity to expand our freight industry,”  Mr Evans said. The project was supported by representatives from freight company LINX and Cotton Australia.

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