A $1 million feasibility study is underway in New South Wales into the viability of a Canberra to Eden rail line – a project that could boost the state’s forestry industry. The study was announced late last year in Parliament by the Deputy Premier and Nationals leader, John Barilaro, who is the Member for Monaro. Source: Philip Hopkins for Timberbiz
“This project will be a game changer for our region,” he told the Legislative Assembly.
“At Bombala, this could open up forestry opportunities and breathe new life into the region’s timber sector.”
It could also be a huge fillip for tourism.
“Imagine being able to hop on a train in Sydney and disembark in Cooma for an annual ski trip at Kosciuszko National Park, or being able to hop on a train at Queanbeyan and head to the beautiful South Coast for a family yearly summer holiday,” he said.
Mr Barilaro said that 30 years after suspension of services, the feasibility study would examine the reopening of the rail line as well as the extension of the line between Bombala and the Port of Eden, and between Queanbeyan and Canberra International Airport.
“This is a tip to the hat of our forefathers who, based on a vision of future development in southern NSW, hand-built the line between the 1880s and the 1920s,” he said. “This line could potentially provide a new link from Canberra as a global gateway for passengers and trade.”
Mr Barilaro said this was an opportunity the region had not seen before. “The vision for the south-east and tablelands is one of a borderless region in Australia’s most geographically diverse natural environment,” he said.
It would open up freight and tourism opportunities.
The study will investigate reinstating the currently non-operational rail line between Queanbeyan and Bombala, plus the development of a new track to extend the line to Canberra Airport, as well as the Port of Eden.
“The investigation will comprise a detailed engineering study, finalise a preferred route, and confirm detailed construction cost estimates,” Mr Barilaro said.
The Bombala line, 304 kilometres long, starts at Joppa Junction near Goulburn. The line to Bombala via Cooma was progressively closed between 1986 and 1990, with sections briefly opened for heritage and tourist operations.
“However, the line is currently in an un-trafficable condition as its age and disused status has led to rail breakage, sleeper degradation and timber bridge deterioration,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Beyond Bombala, no rail line has ever existed. The feasibility study will identify the potential opportunity to open up a new corridor to the Port of Eden.”
Mr Barilaro said this project could have a transformative effect on the region, particularly with Snowy Hydro 2.0 about to begin.
“It is an exciting time in the south-east, be it in tourism, agriculture or the timber industry,” he said.
A request to Government for a comment about progress on the feasibility study was not received by DTN’s deadline.