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Wednesday, 12 November 1941

Senator KEANE - The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer : -

Consideration has been given to the construction of the rail link between Alice Springs and Birdum. The suggested link would involve approximately 620 miles of new construction. The cost of such construction would amount to between £5,000,000 and £5,500,000, necessitating supply of upwards of 05,000 tons of steel rails, fishbolts, and in addition to approximately 1,500,000 wooden sleepers, or, if steel sleepers were used, approximately 50,000 tons of steel. The estimated time of construction is three years. In addition to the heavy capital expenditure, the work would require a considerable time to complete (apart from the difficulty in obtaining supply of necessary steel and sleepers), and consequently its value as a defence proposal to meet a national emergency that might arise in the near future, has insufficient merit in relation to other necessary projects. With the recent completion of the construction of the road between Alice Springs and Birdum, the capacity for movement over this section is equal to the maximum capacity of each of the railway sections at each end of the road, i.e., Quorn-Alice Springs railway and Birdum-Darwin railway.

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