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Federal funding to study last leg of inland rail.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon John Anderson MP Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of the National Party

23 January 2003 A7/2003

Federal Funding to Study Last Leg of Inland Rail

The Federal Government has committed $250,000 to a pre-feasibility study for the final leg of the Melbourne to Darwin Inland Rail project, looking at the Cloncurry to Tennant Creek link.

Announcing the funding today, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said the Government was keen to improve Australia's rail system through initiatives such as the Inland Rail project.

This new funding brings the total Federal commitment to date to $830,000.

"The funds for the Inland Rail project will enable a pre-feasibility study of the final section, from Cloncurry through Mount Isa to Tennant Creek," Mr Anderson said.

"Studies suggest the Inland Rail project is likely to be commercially feasible, as long as it is able to meet loading targets based on transport demand for coal and other freight."

The Inland Rail project proposes to link Melbourne to Darwin via Brisbane and Mt Isa. The link from Tennant Creek to Darwin would be provided by the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway, which is currently under construction.

Commonwealth funding has gone towards pre-feasibility studies for the Melbourne to Brisbane and Toowoomba to Gladstone and Emerald stages, as well as market studies.

"The Federal Government has a number of solid proposals on the table to make much needed, serious improvements to Australia's rail system.

"The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) lease proposal is currently being considered by the NSW Government. If successful, it will be a significant step towards streamlined track access and management arrangements across the interstate rail network.

"The ARTC lease is the best opportunity for the Inland Rail project to get access to the rail infrastructure it requires to proceed.

"The ARTC proposal is also an excellent example of how the recently announced AusLink initiative could work in practice - a partnership approach by Federal and state governments and the private sector to providing and maintaining critical transport infrastructure.

"Under the broader AusLink framework I envisage this arrangement becoming a more

common scenario."

Media Contacts

Paul Chamberlin ( Deputy Prime Minister's office ) 0419 233 989