AusRAIL, Market Sectors

SA electrification up in air after feds pulls out

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Federal Government has said it will not fund the electrification of South Australia’s Gawler line, despite the state insisting that federal funding is necessary for the project to take place. </span> <p>South Australia’s transport minister, Tom Koutsantonis, has called on the Federal Government to reverse its decision and provide the funding needed to electrify the line. Koutsantonis said last week that the Federal Government should honour commitments to provide funding.</p><p>SA’s planning department is adamant that it needs federal funding to electrify the line, but the new Federal Government, in keeping with its pre-election commitments to fund urban road projects, not rail ones, says it won’t pay for the work.</p><p>Koutsanontis has argued the Gawler line electrification is expected to create 600 jobs, and will provide added convenience for the 10,000 passengers that he says use those rail services each weekday.</p><p>The state minister said an exchange of letters before the election show the Federal Government was aware of the scope of the state government’s proposal and committed to funding the electrification to Salisbury.</p><p>But he says the Federal Government now believes the state changed some of the terms of the electrification project.</p><p>“For the assistant infrastructure minister Jamie Briggs to say we changed the scope of the Gawler project without informing the Commonwealth displays a stunning ignorance of the state of negotiations,” Koutsantonis said.</p><p>“An exchange of letters demonstrates clearly the Federal Government was committed to the electrification project in the scope outlined by the South Australian Government&hellip</p><p>“These letters show the Federal Government was absolutely in no doubt about the scope of the project to which they were committing Commonwealth funding. The prime minister told the premier [of SA] he would honour contracts already entered into before the election,” he argued.</p><p>“Mr Briggs has reneged on these arrangements and broken the hearts of the residents along the Tonsley and Gawler lines&hellip If Mr Abbott was genuine about wanting to lead a Government that supports infrastructure then he shouldn’t rip the heart out of it.”</p>