Port faces com­pe­ti­tion in Dar­win rail link

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

TOWNSVILLE could soon face stronger com­pe­ti­tion from Dar­win as the ex­port port for north­west Queens­land’s $ 15 bil­lion min­er­als and agri­cul­tural trade.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter War­ren Truss yesterday an­nounced stud­ies into a new rail line be­tween Mount Isa and Ten­nant Creek, to link with the line to Dar­win, as well as work to iden­tify what needs to be done to up­grade the “age- ing” Mount Isa to Townsville rail line. How­ever, with the North­ern Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment agree­ing to con­trib­ute $ 1 mil­lion to­wards a $ 5 mil­lion Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment, the fo­cus is on de­vel­op­ing the Dar­win link.

Mr Truss said the Mount Isa- Ten­nant Creek study would as­sess the vi­a­bil­ity of a 600km link be­tween the two re­gional cen­tres as part of the Gov­ern­ment’s plan to de­velop North­ern Aus­tralia.

“Rail re­mains a key trans- port mode for get­ting bulk goods to mar­ket, and con­duct­ing a Mount Isa- Ten­nant Creek fea­si­bil­ity study will help de­ter­mine the best trans­port links … be­tween those two cen­tres,” Mr Truss said.

“Like­wise, the study into up­grad­ing the age­ing Mount Isa- Townsville line is great news for the re­gion, which sup­ports a range of in­dus­tries cru­cial to Aus­tralia’s eco­nomic suc­cess, in­clud­ing min­eral re­sources and beef cat­tle ex­ports.”

Mr Truss said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s $ 5 bil­lion con­ces­sional loans fa­cil­ity would be avail­able to the pri­vate sec­tor and state gov­ern­ments for rail de­vel­op­ments.

Mount Isa MP Rob Kat­ter said plan­ning on the needs of the ex­ist­ing Mount Isa rail line was done three years ago, but he be­lieved it had been shelved by pre­vi­ous LNP gov­ern­ment.

The line had been run into the ground with train speeds hav­ing to be halved to around 40km/ h, Mr Kat­ter said.

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