LETTERS: by Kevin O'NeillNews Weekly
Rail the key to rural infrastructure
, September 6, 2003
In his address to the NSW Farmers Association Conference 2003, Tim Fischer called for the maintenance of railway branch lines. He could have added the Narrandera-Tocumwal line to the Moree-North Star, Bogan Gate-Tottenham, and The Rock-Boree Creek lines that he mentioned.
If there is any other rail link in rural NSW that has a greater potential for freight than the Narrandera-Tocumwal line, I would be glad to hear of it.
To be successful, our rural rail links need some reconfiguration to provide the least cost path to final destination, regardless of state borders.
There will be some cost in reconfiguration such as a new link from Coonamble to Narrabri, using the modern track laying machines used to build the Alice Springs-Darwin link.
The very successful Newell Highway has already demonstrated the potential of a Melbourne-Brisbane freight route on the flat plains west of the Dividing Range with plenty of room for passing loops.
A freight and passenger route from Melbourne to Brisbane west of the Divide would lay the keel of industrialisation and job creation in rural Australia. It would create competition between export ports. It would promote tourism in the inland.
There would be a greater community of interest among country people, both urban and rural, to the great benefit of all.
Rail is the core element of the transport infrastructure. Grain transport represents the spearhead of rail policy in rural Australia.
Unless we get our rail strategy right, we are doomed to a high cost inefficient transport infrastructure, and negative development in the bush.Kevin O'Neill,
Progressive Rail Association,