NSW moves to reopen Cowra rail freight lines

NSW government calls for private sector to restore and operate 200 kilometres of disued freight lines between Blayney and Demondrille

NSW moves to reopen Cowra rail freight lines
NSW moves to open Cowra rail freight lines

September 3, 2013

NSW Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay has called for expressions of interest from the private sector to restore, operate and maintain 200 kilometres of rail line between Blayney and Demondrille – commonly known as the ‘The Cowra Lines’.

The disused lines, which run through the NSW electorate of Burrinjuck, were mainly used for grain haulage until their official closure in 2007 because of poor coordination between asset managers, high operating costs and low freight volumes.

Originally owned by the NSW government, the Australian Rail Track Corporation became responsible for operations over the line in 2004.

From January 2012, the line was managed by John Holland Rail,
but following flooding between Cowra and Young in 2011, the line became unusable for most of its length.

Minister Gay says there is widespread support from local councils and mayors to reopen the Cowra Lines.

Gay says the NSW Government is committed to ensuring rural and regional rail and road infrastructure – like the Cowra Lines – is connected to provide a high performance transport network to drive economic growth.

The move follows a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSW Government and the Blayney, Cowra, Harden, Weddin and Young Shire Councils signed in July 2013 to investigate how a regulatory and operating model for the lines could be improved.

Gay says
the investigation did not just focus on improving economic sustainability, but on the potential to attract commercial investment.

"The project offers the opportunity to trial an improved integrated regional infrastructure model, in which a more effective rail operations model is supported by a complementary road access regime," Gay says.

"This model would enable commercial bids for service provision to be developed."

Minister Gay
adds council involvement will be essential to make sure the local road network connects efficiently to intermodal terminals located on the rail lines, so regional businesses and primary producers can more efficiently move goods to market.

"The Cowra Lines project is an important and innovative pilot that could help pave the way for other parts of the state’s rail and road freight and transport network," he says.

Transport for NSW is calling for Registrations of Interest from suitably qualified parties to restore, maintain and operate the railway lanes from Blayney to Demondrille as well as between Koorawatha to Greenthorpe on a commercially sustainable basis under a fixed term licence.

The deadline for registrations is 5:00 pm EST on 4 October 2013.

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