AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Anderson says numbers add up on Inland Rail

<p>Federal transport minister John Anderson has endorsed the concept of an Australian Inland Rail Expressway, after project backers finally came forward with figures for the scheme, his office said. </p> <p>The news follows last Monday’s (June 2) two-hour meeting between Mr Anderson and Inland rail pioneer Everald Compton over the stalled Melbourne-to-Darwin rail freight project.</p> <p>Mr Anderson had previously criticised the project’s backers for the lack of financial detail.</p> <p>"There have been a few informal things thrown around in the past but governments can’t work with that. We need hard and fast numbers and we saw that for the first time on Monday," a spokesman for Mr Anderson said.</p> <p>"John Anderson remains a very, very strong supporter of that project, in fact, he would be the strongest supporter of that project within the ministry." </p> <p>The spokesman said the minister is optimistic of reaching agreement with New South Wales over the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) lease plan for the state’s interstate tracks.</p> <p>This is an issue the Commonwealth wants resolved first before advancing Mr Compton’s Australian Inland Rail Expressway project and other crucial rail freight issues. </p> <p>"We think [the track lease issue is&#93 of critical importance for rail in NSW and up and down the eastern seaboard, but also for the inland rail project," the spokesman said.</p> <p>The "end of July" timeframe was suggested by Mr Anderson when he met Mr Compton.</p> <p>The meeting followed Mr Compton’s decision last week to run against Mr Anderson in his seat of Gwydir at the next federal election because of the lack of progress on the rail project.</p> <p>The issue of competing for the seat of Gwydir at the next election was not mentioned at the meeting, Mr Compton said.</p> <p>"It’s [Mr Compton’s&#93 democratic right," Mr Anderson’s spokesman said. </p> <br />