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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1945

(Question No. 174)

Senator Maguire asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 28 March 1985:

What information is now available concerning the proposed conversion of the Adelaide-Melbourne railway line to standard gauge, in particular:

(a) has the project evaluation study conducted by the Victorian State Transport Authority and the Australian National Railways Commission been completed-

(i) if so, what was the outcome of the study and has a commencement date been set for work to begin on the standardisation of the Adelaide-Melbourne railway line,

(ii) if the study has not been completed, what is the expected completion date and are any interim findings available;

(b) are any proposals under consideration to convert any connecting railway lines to standard gauge; and

(c) what is the latest estimated cost of standardising the Adelaide to Melbourne railway.

Senator Gietzelt —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(a) (i) and (ii) No. Some work on evaluating the project has been undertaken by the Victorian State Transport Authority (V/Line) and the Australian National Railways Commission (AN) which indicated that the project could be economically viable under certain conditions. However, there are fundamental differences between the two systems on likely capital costs, potential markets and new traffic levels. AN has commissioned an independent market survey to investigate potential traffic growth. Further progress with the study of the project will depend on the results of this survey and further discussions between AN and V/Line.

(b) The studies undertaken to date envisage standard gauge connections to Wolseley, Mount Gambier, Portland, Maroona and Geelong based upon an intended mainline of Ararat-Geelong-Melbourne in lieu of Ararat-Melbourne-Geelong. They also envisage conversion to standard gauge by the inclusion of a third rail from Adelaide to Tailem Bend to enable retention of broad gauge to the Cambrai and Murraylands lines and through Pinnaroo to V/Line's broad gauge network.

(c) I am advised that the most recent estimate of cost is $220m. However, a more detailed assessment of construction costs could see some reduction in this figure.