Work began on Monday on a much-anticipated $9.4 million freight grain line, offering local wheat farmers a boost in confidence.
The 56km stretch of railway from The Rock to Boree Creek will see all timber sleepers along the line replaced, 8000 tonnes of rail ballast unloaded and a total resurfacing of the track.
Farmers in areas including Wagga, Narrandera, Oaklands and Coleambally are set to benefit from the upgrade, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Roads minister Duncan Gay, agriculture minister Niall Blair and Wagga MP Daryl Maguire were onsite to inspect the initial works on the track.
Mr Maguire said the initiative is a big win for local farmers, who for a long time have been forced to rely on neglected rail lines, often faced with potential closure.
“This has been one of the few rail lines that has resisted closure fiercely under the former regime,” he said.
“The former Labor government closed a lot of railway lines, they didn’t invest in them and what you’re seeing now is the repairs to the neglect that we inherited.”
With New South Wales producing 36 per cent of the country’s wheat, Mr Blair said the investment in this infrastructure was “vital to the regional community” and has the potential to contribute $2.5 billion to the economy each year.
“Investment in infrastructure like this will pay off for our farmers in this region,” he said.
“Being able to get from paddock to port as efficiently as possible reduces their costs and will hopefully end up with more money in their pockets.
“There’s no point having our farmers doing what they’re doing so well if they then can’t get that commodity to the mill or to those export markets.”
The government has invested $264 million across the state to upgrade and repair grain lines, with every wooden sleeper in New South Wales set to be replaced by 2019.
According to roads minister Duncan Gay, a $400 million budget has been dedicated to the renewal of grain lines throughout the region, which will target problem areas, and increase rail productivity.
“This money will be used to fix the little pinches that have been causing problems on our grain lines across the state, and if we can fix these the productivity gains will be incredible,” he said.
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