Farmers want rail talks
The inland rail project is lining up to be an issue in both the NSW and federal elections, despite over $400 million already being spent.
The NSW Farmers Association wants the $10 billion project halted so that it can re-negotiate the route.
Farmers say the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has ignored landholder concerns, and is calling for an inquiry.
ARTC chief executive John Fullerton was asked in a recent Senate Estimates session why one particular route favoured by landholders in the Coonamble area was removed from consideration.
He said it was about time and money.
“It added about $50 million to the construction cost and 24 minutes to the transit time,” Mr Fullerton said.
The NSW Farmers Association inland rail committee chief Adrian Lyons says ARTC has the numbers wrong.
“We called them on this because they're not putting the economic justification in there, they have not completed a socio-economic valuation correctly, because it's been done by engineers,” Mr Lyons said.
Mr Lyons said political considerations appear to be affecting decisions.
“They've been too busy trying to rush this process through to get this track laid before the election,” he said.
“If the Government in Canberra won't take action then we will turn to the NSW Government to ensure they use their planning powers to demand changes to this project.”
Meanwhile, the rail project has reached a key milestone.
Construction company INLink (a joint venture between BMD Group and Fulton Hogan) has announced it is taking possession of track between Goonumbla to Narwonah, just outside Parkes, which it will upgrade to prepare for heavier, longer freight trains.