Port faces competition in Darwin rail link
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.