Media Release - Duncan Gay MLC Minister for Roads and Ports - Deputy Leader of the Government Legislative Council

Monday 2 September 2013

CALL FOR PRIVATE SECTOR INTEREST TO REOPEN COWRA LINES

Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay today called for registrations of interest from the private sector to restore, operate and maintain 200 kilometres of rail line between Blayney and Demondrille – commonly known as the ‘The Cowra Lines’.

Minister Gay said there has been widespread support from local councils and Mayors to reopen the Cowra Lines after they were closed in 2007 because of poor coordination between asset managers, high operating costs and low freight volumes.

“The NSW Liberals and Nationals have listened to and acted on the calls of Central West councils and businesses for the government to work closely with the private sector to gauge interest and investigate if the Cowra Lines can be reopened and made commercially sustainable,” Minister Gay said.

“The NSW Government is committed to ensuring rural and regional rail and road infrastructure – like the Cowra Lines – is connected to provide a high performance transport network to drive economic growth.

“Since winning office in March 2011, the Liberals & Nationals Government has placed freight at the forefront of our economy. We’ve already achieved many firsts, including establishing a dedicated Freight and Regional Development division within Transport for NSW and developing the first Freight and Ports Strategy in the state’s history,” he said.

Minister Gay said council involvement will be essential to make sure the local road network connects efficiently to intermodal terminals located on the rail lines, so regional businesses and primary producers can more efficiently move goods to market.

“The Cowra Lines project is an important and innovative pilot that could help pave the way for other parts of the state’s rail and road freight and transport network,” Minister Gay said.

Transport for NSW is calling for Registrations of Interest from suitably qualified parties to restore, maintain and operate the railway lanes from Blayney to Demondrille as well as between Koorawatha to Greenthorpe on a commercially sustainable basis under a fixed term licence.

This follows a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSW Government and the Blayney, Cowra, Harden, Weddin and Young Shire Councils signed in July 2013 to investigate how a regulatory and operating model for the lines could be improved.

More information is available on the NSW eTendering website at https://tenders.nsw.gov.au/. The deadline for registrations is 5:00 pm EST on 4 October 2013.

Media: Marie Scoutas 0467 739 976