Commonwealth buys Tasmania’s rail

The Federal Government has finalised details of its $195 million investment in Tasmania’s rail infrastructure following the decision by Asciano to cease its rail operations by 30 November 2009.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, and Tasmanian Infrastructure Minister, Graeme Sturges, said their governments have agreed to a program of capital works to save hundreds of local jobs and help restore the viability of the state’s rail network.
“Following representations from the Tasmanian Government we have taken a number of tough decisions, including reprioritising spending within our Nation Building Program in order to keep the core of the network operational,” said Mr Albanese.
“The purpose of our investment is simple: to put the State’s rail network back on a secure footing for the long term. This investment will support jobs today while building the rail infrastructure Tasmania needs for tomorrow.”
The $195 million Federal investment will fund the following projects through the Nation Building Program:
  • Capacity improvements along Main North-South line ($31.6 million) – work will begin this financial year;
  • Capacity improvements at Rhyndaston ($24 million) – work will begin this financial year;
  • Maintenance work on the existing network ($61.13 million) – work will begin this financial year;
  • Upgrade of the Burnie to Melba Flats line ($15.7 million);
  • Upgrade of the Burnie to Western Junction line ($30.3 million);
  • Upgrade of the Hobart to Western Junction line ($20.3 million);
  • Upgrade of the Fingal Line ($5.7 million);
  • Upgrade of the Boyer Line ($1.07 million);
  • Expansion of the Bell Bay intermodal terminal ($5.2 million).
Other projects will be deferred until after the existing network is strengthened.
Mr Sturges said the current state of the network was the result of years of neglect and underinvestment by previous owners.
“In order to run operations effectively we need to undertake additional works to strengthen the existing core network before starting work on secondary rail spurs,” said Mr Sturges.
“The State Government has come to an agreement with the private operator that will see an orderly transition of operations from Pacific National to the State Government by 30 November 2009.
“This will ensure minimal disruption to services and ensure certainty for companies relying on freight rail to move goods across the state.”

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