After a meeting today with growers in the central west and the State Member for Dubbo, Mr Tony McGrane, AWB has announced that it will fund an independent engineering assessment of the Tottenham Branch Line.
AWB Limited’s State Manager for NSW and Qld, Peter Burke said an assessment of the rail line is being undertaken to provide greater information to growers, which they and their local representative, Mr McGrane, can use when discussing future options with the NSW Rail Infrastructure Corporation.
Mr Burke said that AWB would also present the findings of the independent assessment to the NSW Farmers Association Road/Rail Taskforce in an effort to ensure that there is greater understanding of the need to support branch line upgrades.
"I believe that this independent assessment will demonstrate that it makes economic sense to upgrade efficient country rail infrastructure, not only in Tottenham but right across NSW," Mr Burke said.
State MP for Dubbo, Tony McGrane welcomed the AWB initiative to support growers in the Orana and Central West areas.
Mr McGrane said it is good to see the AWB starting to address concerns about the future of branch line rail by funding this study.
"One of the main problems in addressing rail issues is the lack of factual information on the cost of repairing and upgrading these western tracks to allow commercial operators to use them in a cost effective manner."
"The emerging issue in terms of branch lines is that road transport is coming into favour due to policy decisions and poor track standards, and this AWB initiated study of the Tottenham Line will certainly help us lobby NSW Treasury to bring this track up to a commercial standard," Mr McGrane said.
"The grains industry needs to form political and industry alliances that will help keep it’s cost structures low and maintain Government expenditure at appropriate levels to ensure export industries prosper and this is an example of such cooperation," Mr McGrane said.
Chair of the Tottenham Line / Bogan Gate Action Committee and local growers, led by Terry Fishpool who attended the meeting also welcomed the AWB initiative as a positive step forward in helping the local community maintain its branch line.
It is envisaged that the audit is expected to begin before the end of October, and take about three weeks to complete.