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Canberra to Eden railway

Started by ozbob, July 11, 2018, 12:08:25 PM

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Canberratimes --> 'Visionary': The new plan for a Canberra to Eden railway line

QuoteA concept plan for a Canberra to Eden railway line has been labelled "visionary", and something that would allow the capital to unlock the potential of "relatively isolated" areas in south-east Australia and become the region's freight hub.

Engineer Edwin Mitchell has developed the plan for the Cooma and Monaro Progress Association, which is now commissioning a preliminary cost estimate as part of a full business case that it will use to push for government funding.

Mr Mitchell says that rather than waiting for a high-speed railway from Canberra to Sydney, his plan would open up areas of untapped potential, with the capital to reap the benefits of a rail link with the deep-water port of Eden.

"Canberra Airport could position itself as the gateway of choice for both air-freight and passenger travel for virtually the entirety of southern regional New South Wales, and perhaps much of eastern Victoria," he writes in the concept plan.

Mr Mitchell says now is a good time to realise the "century-old dream", with freight customers looking for alternatives to the major transport routes into Sydney, which are reaching or nearing capacity, while also expensive, slow, or both.

The plan proposes to rebuild the disused rail line between Queanbeyan and Bombala to a higher standard, extending it north to include a stop at Canberra Airport.

The proposed line could split into three potential routes as it heads south towards Eden, with one route going to the port town via Bombala and Nungatta.

The other two possibilities are a line passing through Bombala and Wyndham, or one that would go through the Bega Valley.

Passenger rail journeys would be about 30 per cent faster on average than driving, with Canberrans able to reach Cooma in 52 minutes, Bombala in 93 minutes and Eden in 139 minutes.

Snowy Mountains Regional Council Mayor John Rooney said the plan was "visionary", and that no project would have a greater transformative effect on the region.

Mr Rooney said several small towns in south-east NSW had stagnated since the state government closed the Queanbeyan to Bombala railway line 30 years ago, and that while passenger trains on the route would create "one of Australia's great railway journeys" and boost tourism, the biggest benefits would be in freight.

"We would love to be able to take greater advantage of Canberra Airport to export, and this project would connect the airport with the Eden sea port, making it the major freight route in south-eastern Australia," he said.

"The lack of transport has hampered many economic opportunities for the traditional industries in towns along the route."

Mr Rooney said he could envision a "booming" manufacturing industry at Cooma's under-utilised Polo Flats if the railway line went ahead, with the prospect of goods produced there being exported from Canberra Airport.

He also said transporting freight by rail would greatly reduce the cost of road maintenance for governments and councils.

Member for Monaro and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said with the state government planning to invest the proceeds of Snowy 2.0 in infrastructure, there was "definitely scope" for projects like a Canberra to Eden railway line.

Mr Barilaro said he planned to meet with NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who is also the Member for Bega, to discuss the viability of the project.

"It is something I am interested in, but it must be thought out and realistic," Mr Barilaro said.

Fairfax Media asked Chief Minister Andrew Barr's office whether the ACT government had discussed supporting the process and chipping in funding if it became a reality.

With Mr Barr currently in Singapore, a spokesperson for Acting Chief Minister Yvette Berry responded by saying the government had not yet closely considered the plan, but was "always interested in improving transport in and out of Canberra".

"This proposal would support the case for Canberra to be the freight hub of the region, absorbing excess freight from Sydney and Melbourne," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the ACT and NSW governments were committed to continuing their push for improvements to the Canberra to Sydney rail line, despite the Commonwealth government deciding not to support their joint application for business case funding.

Canberra Airport director of planning and government relations Noel McCann said the airport had received a briefing on the concept plan and looked forward to receiving more information.

"We continue to support more efficient ground transport for passengers and freight, including rail, throughout our region," Mr McCann said.
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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The ACT government is unlikely to put other than a token amount of money into the project, as much of the line would be in NSW.  Why build a railway to Cooma to develop the Polo Flats site when the industries that might develop there could be situated in or around Canberra, where there are lots of flat sheep paddocks and a talented workforce at Canberra/Queanbeyan?


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Bega District News --> Canberra to Eden rail link study to be announced

QuoteThe NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Bega MP and Transport Minister Andrew Constance are expected in Cooma to announce $1 million for a feasibility study into a rail link from Canberra to Bombala and then on to the Port of Eden.

The news follows the launch of a concept report in early July by the Cooma and Monaro Progress Association.

Written by engineer Edwin Michell the report promoted the idea of a rail link from Canberra which "would enable the Port of Eden to emerge as a first-rate intermodal transport facility".

It is something that has been raised by the Canberra Region Joint Organisation (CRJO) which includes Bega Valley Shire Council as well as Eurobodalla, Snowy Monaro, Queanbyean-Palerang, Goulburn Mulwarree, Uppper Lachlan, Hilltops, Yass Valley and Wingercarabee councils with associate members, East Gippsland, Snowy Valleys, Wagga Wagga and ACT government.

Council's general manager Leanne Barnes said they had looked at a range of freight options and freight strategies.

Ms Barnes said that it was about "big picture thinking" and having "a vision for what could happen into the future" and getting that on the agenda.

Mayor of Bega Valley Shire and deputy chair of the CRJO Kristy McBain said the group has a focus on regional collaboration to enable the whole area to flourish.

Councillor Sharon Tapscott has welcomed the news of the study calling it "a step in the right direction for sustainability".

The CRJO represents a powerful voice in the region and has met with state ministers discuss how to use their combined muscle for economies of scale, and to press their respective cases for funding. 

Mr Constance has previously spoken about the opportunities presented by the development of the Port of Eden, Canberra's international airport and the development of Snowy 2.0.

He is understood to be keen on a rail link, providing the economic case stacks up and has talked about getting big infrastructure projects in place.

The rail link proposal looked at reopening the link from Canberra, where a line once ran, through to Bombala. The section from Bombala to Eden would require a new link.

The report says the most promising route between Bombala and Eden is through the Towamba Valley, downhill through the valleys of the White Rock River and Wog Wog Creek, eventually emerging into the Towamba River near Burragate following the river to its mouth near Boydtown and terminating at the Port of Eden.

However there are two alternative routes to consider, Mr Michell said, one through the Bega Valley, and one encompassing the small township of Wyndham.

It would proceed through Cathcart and once on the Bega Valley bottom, it would pass close to the townships of Candelo, Wolumla, and Pambula, using the surveyed but unbuilt Bega-Eden Railway.

The second would proceed due east from Bombala through Coolangubra State Forest, descending the spurs surrounding Rocky Hall, then through the townships of Wyndham and Lochiel to Pambula, using the surveyed Bega-Eden railway.
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Canberratimes --> Canberra to Eden railway line study set for June completion

A map of the proposed Eden to Canberra railway line. CREDIT:COOMA AND MONARO PROGRESS ASSOCIATION

QuoteA study to assess the feasibility of a Canberra to Eden railway line will be completed before the end of June, with the contract to carry out the study expected to be awarded by April 2.

The NSW government announced $1 million in funding for the study in August last year, after engineer Edwin Michell developed a concept plan that proposes to rebuild the existing rail line between Queanbeyan and Bombala.

Under the proposal, the line would be extended north to Canberra Airport and south to the Port of Eden for freight and passenger journeys.

John Holland Rail, which has been appointed by the NSW government's transport department to manage and operate the state's regional rail network, is inviting tenders for the study until Wednesday.

The study, which must be completed by June 28 under the terms of the tender, will identify the freight and passenger demand for the route, as well as the timing, cost and engineering requirements of the proposed project.

Mr Michell, who prepared the concept plan on behalf of the Cooma and Monaro Progress Association, has previously estimated construction of the project at $2.27 billion, or $2.95 billion including contingency funding.

During a presentation at the Engineers Australia offices in Canberra late last year, he said construction of the Canberra to Cooma section of the route carried an estimated cost of $386 million, with Cooma to Bombala likely to need $261 million.

The Bombala to Eden section would require an estimated $1.06 billion, with almost three-quarters of the cost to be spent on bridges, tunnels and earthworks.

Contractor and client costs, as well as contingency funding, would make up the remainder of the estimated spend.

In his presentation, Mr Michell said the line had eight potential stations – Canberra Airport, Michelago, Bredbo, Cooma, Nimmitabel, Bombala, Towamba and Boydtown in Eden.

"All ... have the potential for high-quality residential development nearby at relatively low cost," he said.

It would take two hours and 19 minutes to travel from Canberra to Eden, Mr Michell said, compared to a journey of three hours and 11 minutes by car.

He said passenger demand was estimated at 3500 people per day, capturing 10 per cent of existing car traffic and all coach passengers.

The estimate also factored in population growth, cruise passengers travelling from Eden to Canberra on shore excursions, and Canberrans heading to the coast for seaside holidays.

"If we were to build this railway tomorrow, there's obviously not going to be anything like 3000 seats a day demand from the small towns on the Monaro," Mr Michell said.

"But consider that the ACT's population growth rate over the last year was the equal highest in the nation, increasing at about 9000 people per year.

"If just 5 per cent of these new Canberrans were to decide not to settle in the city, but in regional townships where they could commute to work by fast train, within three years there would be [an estimated] 1500 return trips per day, and that's just the commuter demand.

"Incidental demand, tourism, airport transfer and travellers continuing on to Sydney, and possibly in the future Victoria or the skifields, would comprise even more."

Mr Michell estimated freight demand for the railway at about 5.3 million tonnes a year by 2025-26.

Timber accounted for a significant proportion of that, but the industry is now in jeopardy in Eden. Blue Ridge Hardwoods, which has operated for 70 years and employs 56 workers, could close at the end of the year when its Forestry Corporation of NSW contract expires.

Mr Michell said providing a rail link to Eden was timely, with freight customers looking for alternatives to existing ports because of congested transport corridors, increasing energy costs and expensive port charges.

"The natural advantages of Eden as an anchorage would ensure its strategic importance to NSW once suitable transportation infrastructure was in place," Mr Michell said.

He said passengers were essential to the project to help pay for the construction, and freight equally important to ensure its long-term viability.
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Interesting. I always thought of extending the line from Nowra down the coast but a train line is better than no train line. Opening up the port of Eden too will be a good boost for the area too no doubt. Would also give longer term options of rail connecting up from Victoria too.
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