The freight company Wagga council hopes will build and operate the Bomen freight hub has broken its silence, saying the venture “looks very promising”.
Genesee and Wyoming Australia (GWA) managing director Greg Pauline said the US-listed rail giant would make an investment decision about the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RIFL) Hub within six months.
It comes after council’s first commercial partner, Patrick-Asciano, backed out of a $15 million deal and the second venture with rail infrastructure specialist Traxion fell over when that company went into voluntary administration.
“We’re taking this opportunity very seriously,” Mr Pauline said.
“We’re an American publicly listed company, so we need to approval for investment capital.
“(Bomen) is a high productivity route with lots of agriculture and the added option of sending freight to Sydney or Melbourne port.”
Mayor Rod Kendall told The Daily Advertiser three months ago GWA had spent in the order of $1 million conducting due diligence.
Wagga Business Chamber president Tim Rose said “as a dispassionate observer, I'd imagine both sides want to do a deal”.
“GWA came around to every business in Bomen months ago to work out our freight profiles,” Mr Rose said.
“The fact they haven’t run screaming from the room is a great sign.
“I think it's a matter of dotting the I's and crossing the T's.”
Mr Rose said $40 million worth of roadworks in Bomen set to begin within months would not be wasted should the deal fall through, as it will open up 1800 hectares of industrial land “with no access”.
The roads are expected to save 36 minutes for heavy trucks and better link the Sturt and Olympic highways.
Council’s acting economic development director James Bolton said council is still formulating its own charges.
“Negotiations are in progress to enter a commercial agreement about the construction and operation of RIFL,” Mr Bolton said.
“We’re negotiating leasing, licencing and throughput charges, but we’re really trying to achieve commercial viability for both parties.
“Council’s comfortable with the progress GWA’s making and we are excited about the opportunities they can bring to the Riverina.”