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Inland rail alignment study underway.



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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Anthony Albanese MP Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

28 March 2008 AA025/2008

INLAND RAIL ALIGNMENT STUDY UNDERWAY

The Rudd Labor Government has commissioned an open, extensive study to determine the economic benefits and likely success of a new multi-billion dollar standard gauge inland railway between Melbourne and Brisbane.

We have asked the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to conduct the study - setting aside up to $15 million to ensure this important work is completed by August 2009.

At present, the only north-south rail corridor in eastern Australia runs along the coastline via Sydney. An inland route through the Central West of NSW has the potential to slash the time it takes to move freight from Melbourne to Brisbane by rail from 36 hours to just 21 hours.

In developing a detailed route alignment, the ARTC will generally follow the far western sub-corridor identified by the North-South Rail Corridor Study (map attached).

The ARTC study will build upon this earlier work and determine the optimum alignment of any future inland railway after taking into account the needs of potential users as well as possible engineering, planning and environmental considerations.

As well as determining the route alignment, the ARTC study will provide both the Government and private sector with information that will help guide their future investment decisions, including likely demand and an estimated construction cost.

Importantly, the study will provide the Government with a basis for evaluating private financing options for part or the entire project.

The study's full terms of reference are attached.

Given the level of interest in the study, I have asked the ARTC to undertake thorough consultations with all stakeholders, including state governments, industry, local government and major rail customers.

I have also requested that all working papers developed as part of the study be placed on the ARTC website after the completion of each stage of work, giving the public the chance to make comment.

After more than eleven years of talk, promises, and press releases from the previous Howard Government and its various National Party transport ministers, it has taken the Rudd Labor Government just a little over 100 days to progress the inland rail proposal to the next critical stage.

The Rudd Labor Government is dedicated to modernising the nation's infrastructure and has committed over $1 billion to rail and inter-modal projects.

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Media Contacts

FAR WESTERN SUB-CORRIDOR

Jeff Singleton ( Mr Albanese's Office ) 0410 476 890

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MELBOURNE/BRISBANE INLAND RAIL ALIGNMENT STUDY TERMS OF REFERENCE

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URL: http://www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/aa/releases/2008/March/AA025_2008.htm

The objectives of the study are to determine:

Ñ The optimum alignment of the inland railway, taking into account user

requirements and the economic, engineering, statutory planning and environmental constraints. The alignment will be sufficiently proven up so it can be quickly taken through the statutory planning and approval process and into detailed engineering design and construction, should a decision be taken to proceed; Ñ The likely order of construction costs +/- 20%;

Ñ The likely order of below rail (infrastructure) operating and maintenance costs;

Ñ Above rail operational benefits;

Ñ The level and degree of certainty of market take up of the alignment;

Ñ A project development and delivery timetable;

Ñ A basis for evaluating the level of private sector support for the project.

In developing the detailed alignment for the route, ARTC will generally follow the 'far western sub-corridor' identified by the North-South Rail Corridor Study.

The study is to be carried out in three stages, with a review of progress and direction at the end of each stage.

Proposed stages are as follows:

Ñ Stage 1 - Determination of the preferred route;

Ñ Stage 2 - Engineering, environmental and land baseline analysis;

Ñ Stage 3 - Development of the preferred alignment.

Each of the stages will represent a milestone for the project as a whole. The progress of the study will be reviewed in detail at the end of each stage. Progress to the following stage will be dependent on satisfactory outcomes for the study to date.

Within each stage there will be a series of working papers produced to document the progress of the study. The ARTC will consult with key interested parties during the study.

The study is to be completed in August 2009.

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