23 September 2019

NSW Government to test Canberra to Eden railway feasibility

| Ian Campbell
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The NSW Government has announced a feasibility study into connecting Canberra and Eden by rail. File Photo.

The NSW Government has announced a feasibility study into connecting Canberra and Eden by rail. File Photo.

It gets talked about at dinner parties and on the sideline of kids soccer, its an idea that always generates excitement, but is one that is always poo-pooed as impossible and fanciful, but that is about to be tested.

The NSW Government has launched a $1 million investigation exploring the potential of opening a freight and passenger rail line to connect Canberra and the Port of Eden.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Member for Monaro John Barilaro, and Transport Minister and Member for Bega Andrew Constance made the announcement in Cooma at the town’s old train station.

“30 years after the suspension of services, the study will examine re-opening the Canberra to Bombala rail line, as well as the extension of the line to the Port of Eden, which is currently undergoing a major redevelopment,” Ms Berejiklian says.

“This rail line could potentially provide a new link from Canberra, as a global gateway for passengers and trade, to the Port of Eden, an emerging cruise destination and home to one of the largest fishing fleets in NSW.

“As a government we have worked hard to put ourselves in the financial position where we can invest heavily in major infrastructure projects that transform the way we live and get around, and I want to ensure that investment extends right to the borders of NSW, not just the borders of metropolitan Sydney,” she says.

Bombala Railway Station. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Bombala Railway Station. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The line to Bombala via Cooma was progressively closed between 1986 and 1990. Sections have briefly re-opened for heritage/tourist operations, however, the line is currently in an un-trafficable condition.

The Bombala line is 304km long and starts at the Australian Rail Track Corporation/Country Regional Network boundary at Joppa Junction near Goulburn.

Mr Barilaro says the announcement is a tip of the hat to our forefathers who hand-built the line between the 1880s and the 1920s, based on a vision of future development in Southern NSW.

“This rail line has long been a dream for our local communities, so I’m pleased we are able to make this important first step today,” Mr Barilaro says

“I believe the project has the ability to breathe new life into our southern communities by opening up freight and tourism opportunities, which is why I look forward to the results of the study.”

Old rail lines crisscross the country between Canberra and Bombala. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Old rail lines crisscross the country between Canberra and Bombala. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The study will consider reinstating the currently non-operational rail line between Queanbeyan and Bombala, plus the development of new tracks to extend the line to Canberra Airport, as well as the Port of Eden.

Mr Constance says the investigation will comprise of a detailed engineering study, finalise a preferred route, and confirm detailed construction cost estimates.

“By linking the line to the Port of Eden, the project has the potential to connect Queanbeyan and Canberra to the coast, at a location that experts say rivals Sydney Harbour for depth and access,” Mr Constance says.

“The vision for the South East and Tablelands is one of a borderless region, in Australia’s most geographically diverse natural environment, with the nation’s capital at its heart, and a thriving cruise ship terminal on the coast, so opening up a rail corridor has the potential to link all of that together.”

The run down Nimmitabel Railway Station. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The rundown Nimmitabel Railway Station. Photo: Ian Campbell.

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It seems to smack of a few benefiting from the PublicPurse!
Who are the people pushing this fantasy?
Who do they think believes the rumour there would be “jobs” for locals. Any civil and rail jobs wil go to multinationals who would most likely bring their own specialist crews to do the work.
Does anyone really believe, that “ ship cruise” tourists are going to get off at even a handful of country stations foe a few minutes, buy up bags of useless tours nick knacks and get back on a train to Canberra to catch the flight back to Asia and vice a versa.
What freight are these “people in power” thinking will be hauled along this magical mystery rail to pay for what would be an extraordinary cost to establish this rail link, infrastructure, and rolling stock? There aren’t that many people in Canberra and there aren’t that many fish in the sea, there are no coal or iron ore mines to use it!
So to who and how would there be a benefit flow, Seems a little suspect and in my somewhat cynical mind, could there be a “Real Estate” plot, or just a straight out gargantuan ego thriller!

May be, a Rail Trail might be a better solution all round?

But then again, I have heard that (not verified), some local land owners are agin that idea and that some of those local land holders might be pushing the “ Magical Rail” dream.

Wouldn’t the $1m be better spent on the rail trail?

Steve Osborne10:26 am 28 Jun 19

I think this has already been done? Where did this $1m come from – not available for struggling Councils? Utopia at work again here.

It’s about time that it was put on top of the states agenda. The region is floundering and new infrastructure construction can only boost our small economy albeit if it is for a few short years, but the tourism is something that we can grasp, particularly from the ports of Eden. Let’s not waste too much time in this state leader, get the study done and get into it.

Bojan Batovac4:10 pm 03 May 19

Please build it asap.

Perhaps the Victorian Gov may assess feasability to link Bairnsdale with Eden too. After all their old railway line comes up just south of the Victorian border as well. This would link all of south eastern Australia by rail.

A medium speed rail would make it a 4.5* hour journey to Canberra from Melbourne, but perhaps more importantly only a 2.5 hour journey from bairnsdale. Such a connection would make Canberra more accessible to the Eastern region and Gippsland lakes than Melbourne currently is.

Great idea and has huge merit, but unfortunately like most Govt’s it will probably be deemed too hard. It a long time since any govt has had the forsight to invest in generational changing infrastructure like the Snowy Mountains Scheme

The highway has been realigned in several places to take out the level crossings and associated bends. What will happen in these spots now?

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