Further study to investigate rail line delivery cost

Blayney councillor Scott Ferguson, Steph Cooke MP, Weddin Shire councillor Mark Liebich, Regional Transport Minister Paul Toole and Cowra councillor Bill West.
Blayney councillor Scott Ferguson, Steph Cooke MP, Weddin Shire councillor Mark Liebich, Regional Transport Minister Paul Toole and Cowra councillor Bill West.

A rail line feasibility study, which looks into the next steps for reinstating the Blayney to Demondrille rail line (Cowra Lines) has been presented to local councils.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole and Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke, released and presented the Cowra Lines Feasibility Study to key stakeholders from Blayney, Cowra, Forbes, Hilltops and Weddin councils Friday last week.

"The Cowra Lines served regional NSW for many years until they were progressively suspended between 2007 and 2009," Mr Toole said.

"Since then, a number of studies have been conducted on sections of these lines and focused on lower axle loads, which is why we commissioned the study to investigate the Cowra Lines in their entirety."

Mr Toole said while the study found the reinstatement of the Cowra Lines did not achieve the required benefit cost ratio (BCR) it showed the potential in the lines to drive new opportunities and boost resilience.

"Many projects in regional NSW are not captured by a BCR assessment but may have economic, social or safety benefits that can change the lives of people living in these areas.

"With the long-term freight task increasing across the state and the need to build a resilient network to cope with natural disasters and pandemics, this year has shown it's an opportune time to further investigate our rail freight capabilities.

"The Cowra Lines has the potential to be economically viable when freight capacity on the Main West is constrained in the future and that's why I have asked for this study to be taken to the next stage - to complete a high level design and some investigation works to determine a closer project delivery cost."

I have asked for this study to be taken to the next stage.

Regional Transport Minister Paul Toole

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has been a strong advocate for the reinstatement of the Cowra Lines and said the next stage of design work would provide the community with certainty on whether the Cowra Lines could progress to construction phase and ultimately, reinstatement.

"Commissioning this further work recognises the potential of the region and the opportunities re-opening of the rail lines would offer in terms of improving transport links, supporting regional economic growth and increasing efficiency, connectivity and access through the Central West," Ms Cooke said.

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