Niggling example of political short-sightedness: Maldon-Dombarton rail link

This is one I have mentioned before:

… I was telling Sirdan yesterday about how really dumb the state and federal governments have been when it comes to infrastructure down here. We have ONE rail line to Sydney and that comes down to ONE TRACK at the Clifton tunnel. But further down south and west you can find this:

Dombarton_Tunnel_2

Abandoned rail works

maldon-dombarton

Click to enlarge

See La Perouse:

The proposed Maldon-Dombarton rail link is a 35 kilometre standard gauge rail line connecting the Illawarra Line from Wollongong to the Main Southern Line running from Sydney via Campbelltown. The line was originally proposed and partially constructed by the NSW Government, commencing in 1983. Construction ceased in 1988following a reassessment of the demand case by the NSW Government. The rail corridor is not believed to have been compromised. Approximately two-thirds of earthworks along the rail corridor have been completed, as well as the entry cuts to the tunnel portals and construction access roads to the tunnel and catchment area. However some significant infrastructure has not been constructed, including a number of bridges…

The Maldon-Dombarton line would improve the connectivity of Port Kembla to the South Sydney Freight Line and these intermodal terminals. The port would have the capacity to handle container trade as part of its planned Outer Harbour development.

Now which party was in charge of NSW in 1988, eh Barry?…

Premier Nick Greiner, in fact, who also presided over the removal of station staff from so many platforms in NSW. I had to laugh when I saw Barry O’Farrell has now given him railways to make “more efficient”!

The Mercury tells us that this vital infrastructure project has shifted from the back burner via the too hard basket to the let’s have a report phase, this time with Julia Gillard’s government – which means no-one should be holding their breaths…

The Federal Government has received a highly anticipated report into the Maldon-Dombarton rail link but will not yet release the findings publicly.

The Mercury has learned that Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is evaluating the $3 million, 18-month study which was due for release mid-year.

Two independent consultants conducted the report into the partially finished project, which was shelved by the Greiner government in 1988.

A previous study found that completing the 35km link from Wollongong to the main Southern Line at Maldon would expand commercial and employment opportunities at Port Kembla’s port, create construction jobs and provide a freight alternative to roads.

But the potential $550 million price tag almost doubled previous estimates.

The feasibility report was expected to assess the existing infrastructure, engineering requirements and likely demand for the proposed line, as well as conduct detailed economic and financial modelling.

A spokeswoman for Mr Albanese said the study would be released when "properly considered"….

Which sounds like a prelude to returning to the too hard basket to me.

Meantime more and more ridiculous numbers of trucks thunder down Illawarra’s very few main arteries. With this kind of result: Truck drivers hospitalised after Mt Ousley crash.

See this August letter to the Mercury posted on Wollongong Transport Coalition.

The people of Wollongong have a very short period to get involved in stopping further truck movements on our main roads or face gridlocked conditions worse than Paramatta Road .

Already the roads out of our city are saturated during the morning peaks and yet Kembla Grain Terminal is seeking approval after 25 years, to lift the curfew on grain truck movements and a limit of 200,000 tonnes per annum. This means that trucks will run 24/7 and there could be an extra one million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of grain on roads to Port Kembla – an average of 1250 extra truck movements per week.

On behalf of Wollongong Transport Coalition (WTC) I strongly object to this proposal. At present five mtpa of coal is hauled by heavy trucks on our roads to the Port Kembla Coal Terminal with the prospect of 10mtpa, plus a further 2 mtpa to the steel works. As well as car carrying trucks from the inner harbour the Port Kembla Outer Harbour has approval for expansion which means even more trucks will be on our roads. And to add insult to injury, when quarry material from Bass Point to Sydney has been diverted from ship to 200 truck movements per week, on top a cement mill is planned and we have been informed by the Port Kembla Authorities that all the cement will be delivered by road.

WTC originally requested that the expansion of the Port Kembla Outer Harbour be delayed until proper infrastructure including completion of the Maldon Dombarton rail line was put in place. Ignoring these issues means more road accidents, including on the dangerous Picton Road, plus more noise and air pollution and road congestion.

Although the recent exhibition period of 14 days which was mostly in school holidays has passed, hopefully the Minister of Planning with the full support of al NSW State MPs will consider referring the present application to the Planning and Assessment Commission with the option of Public Hearings.

In addition, WTC seeks positive measures to keep grain on rail. This would include rehabilitation of grain lines, reopening the Harden to Cowra line, and full user pays for heavy trucks to the roads they use in the course of their business with a contribution to the social and environmental costs that their operations impose on the wider community.

Irene Tognetti, WTC Spokesperson

As I said, don’t hold your breath.

BTW that is musician Richard Tognetti’s mother.

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