Plan for northern rail link across continent

<p>An audacious plan to run a rail line across Australia from the west coast to the east, is being planned by a group known as the Australian EW Rail and Industrial Smelting Parks Project.</p> <p>The proposal is to link Port Hedland on the Pilbara coast of northwest Australia with the Queensland ports of Gladstone and Mackay, by a $3bn-plus heavy-duty rail line.</p> <p><em>The Age</em> reports today (Tuesday, June 28) that the rail line would bisect Australia’s two great mineral lodes: the Bowen Basin coalfields in Queensland’s hinterland and Western Australia’s Pilbara, home of the BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto iron ore mines.</p> <p>If some of the world’s biggest companies and the federal and state governments buy into it, it could transform Australia’s resources industry, Bribane-based businessman Shane Condon, who came up with an idea, said.</p> <p>Mr Condon, has pulled together a small team of engineers, economists and other experts that includes ANZ Bank’s chief economist, Saul Eslake, to begin the task of converting it into reality.</p> <p><em>The Age</em> said the group was now seeking commitments for just $100,000, for a pre-feasibility study on the proposal, followed by a $500,000 feasibility study. </p> <p>On the most optimistic timetable, the project would not take shape for several years and would not be built until early in the next decade.</p> <br />