The NSW Government has committed funding to investigate re-opening the railway line between Tocumwal and Narrandera.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey jointly announced the $500,000 allocation for a feasibility study on Monday evening.
It would also include looking at a business case on reactivating the 180km stretch of rail for freight networks, extending the rail access to Port of Melbourne.
Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president Sergio Redegalli said the project would support the ongoing growth of the Tocumwal region.
And he said while focussed on freight improvement, the project could also spark a new discussion about a local passenger rail service.
‘‘Once you get a line working you can lobby to push for a passenger line to be used on the tracks,’’ he said.
‘‘This could really help our tourism industry.
‘‘How good would it be to have old steam trains using the line? It would be a great drawcard to Tocumwal.
‘‘Our only concerns about the project would be around noise from the freight trains and possibly public safety issues around traffic and the speed of trains, however I’m sure those will be addressed.’’
Berrigan Shire Council is so far reluctant to comment on the funding in detail, until more information is available.
However, council director of corporate services Matt Hansen said it supports the government’s investment in the rail line.
‘‘Berrigan Shire is excited to see some money on the table for the Tocumwal-Narrandera railway,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s part of our local economy and any investment from any level of government would be welcomed.’’
Mrs Pavey said a more direct rail link to the ports via Tocumwal could reduce the cost of transporting produce by as much as 20 per cent.
‘‘We’re taking trucks off the road and putting freight on the tracks, reducing the price of rail freight, reducing cycle times and taking the pressure off local roads,’’ she said.
The NSW Government will also invest $600,000 to design and start pre-construction activities for a reconfigured junction at Junee North.
Both funding allocations are through the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Rail program.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro it will be a huge boost for Riverina farmers.
‘‘The Junee North Triangle and the Narrandera-Tocumwal Railway re-activation will receive a total of $1.1 million in funding for design and pre-construction work,’’ Mr Barilaro said.
‘‘We recognise this beautiful region is the food bowl of the west — producing significant volumes of grain, rice, wine, meat, cotton and other horticultural products for both domestic and export markets.
‘‘The costs associated with transporting produce for export is one of the largest inputs for many businesses in this region.’’