Cash to probe NT rail link with Queensland

Studies eye freight track initiatives stretching from Tennant Creek to Townsville

Cash to probe NT rail link with Queensland
Up to up to $5 billion in concessional loans pledged if the projects prove viable.


Just days after taking flack over the lack of rail action in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, federal infrastructure minister Warren Truss has announced the first steps towards a possible link between Mount Isa and Tennant Creek.

The federal government has committed $5 million to undertake freight rail feasibility studies in northern Australia as part of the Northern Australia White Paper, with the Northern Territory Government contributing $1 million to the Tennant Creek to Mount Isa pre-feasibility study.

The initiatives aim to see partnerships with the Queensland and Northern Territory governments to undertake feasibility studies on the new route along with an upgrade of the freight line between Townsville and Mount Isa.

The studies will consider the viability of the initiatives and the economic opportunities they might create.

"These two rail lines have the potential to improve access to global markets for local producers and deliver economic growth to the entire region," Truss says.

"The Mount Isa-Tennant Creek study will assess the viability of a 600km link between the two regional centres as part of the government’s plan to develop northern Australia.

"Rail remains a key transport mode for getting bulk goods to market, and conducting a Mount Isa-Tennant Creek feasibility study will help determine the best transport links to support business owners and residents between those two centres.

"Likewise, the study into upgrading the ageing Mount Isa-Townsville line is great news for the region, which supports a range of industries crucial to Australia’s economic success, including mineral resources and beef cattle exports.

"The Australian Government is committed to developing northern Australia and should these projects prove viable, up to $5 billion in concessional loans is available to the private sector, including mining operators, and state and territory governments, to build key infrastructure projects including rail."

Truss points benefits locally, for the national economy and more broadly in sending "the right message to Australia’s major trading partners".

"Obviously, many overseas operations are in need of a reliable supply of goods at a competitive price, and delivering this rail link may help service that growing demand," he says.

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