AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Fischer urges Victoria-SA rail swap

<p>Rail expert Tim Fischer highlighted yesterday (Thursday, January 31) the value of Victoria and South Australia swapping control of cross-border freight rail systems.</p> <p>Mr Fischer reiterated a recommendation of Rail Freight Network Review (RFNR) Committee report <em>Switchpoint &#8211 The template for rail freight to revive and thrive!</em> released in December when speaking to newsagency AAP.</p> <p>In the midst of a spat over Victorian premier John Brumby’s "backwater" remark about Adelaide in support of Melbourne’s channel deepening project, Mr Fischer was quoted as saying: "Firstly, there is a need for them to consider the big swap.</p> <p>"They should kiss, hug and make up at Penola or Pinnaroo (at the border) and agree that the Ouyen-Pinnaroo line should be given in a 50-year lease for $2 to South Australia because it is over 200 km closer to the Port of Adelaide than any Victorian port.</p> <p>"Equally, the Penola-Mt Gambier to Heywood line should also be converted to standard gauge and be given by South Australia to Victoria on a 50-year lease so timber product can move to the Port of Portland, over 200 km closer than the Port of Adelaide.</p> <p>"In all of this, rail is far more energy efficient than road, when used properly. A steel wheel on a steel rail has one-seventh of the friction of a rubber-type wheel on a bitumen surface."</p> <p>But Mr Fischer said the Seymour-to-Albury rail corridor was an "even worse agony", describing it as: "The 200 km corridor from Seymour to Albury, where, for the last 45 years, broad gauge and standard gauge have operated alongside each other. </p> <p>"Delicate negotiations between the Victorian Department of Infrastructure and the federal ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) to resolve this energy and capital inefficient saga have reached a tipping point."</p> <p>Mr Fischer said it would be a "transport tragedy" if negotiations broke down.</p> <br />