by Kevin O'NeillNews Weekly
Letter: Alice Springs - Darwin railway
, March 10, 2001
The drop out of financial support for the Alice Springs-Darwin rail link should surprise no one conversant with the problem.
Although there has been long emotional support for this rail link, there has never been a great need for it while there is an efficient all-weather road available.
Indeed, Royal Commissioner, Sir Harold Clapp, said in his 1945 Report:
"I can see no justification for converting the Port Augusta-Alice Springs railway from 3'6" gauge to standard gauge, neither can any logical argument be advanced for extending this line north of Alice Springs to connect with the Darwin line.
"In my opinion, this line can play little part in the development of the Northern Territory and as explained elsewhere in this Report, the logical development of the Northern areas is not by railway construction through hundreds of miles of very inferior country, but by a railway from Queensland across the rich Barkly Tableland." (Page 27, paragraphs 127, 128)
It should be apparent that the way to Darwin is Melbourne, Mangalore, through the Goulburn, Murray, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan valleys - the food bowl of Australia - and other western NSW river valleys to Toowoomba, Emerald and Longreach, Hughenden, Mt Isa, Camooweal, across the Barkly Tablelands to Darwin.
This route would provide the least cost path for exports and imports for rural Australia and lay the keel of industrial development away from the coastline.Kevin O'Neill,
Progressive Rail Association,