Maldon-Dombarton study with Anthony Albanese

By Nicole Hasham
Updated November 5 2012 - 1:49pm, first published September 25 2011 - 1:04am

The Federal Government has received a highly anticipated report into the Maldon-Dombarton rail link but will not yet release the findings publicly.The Mercury has learned that Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is evaluating the $3 million, 18-month study which was due for release mid-year.Two independent consultants conducted the report into the partially finished project, which was shelved by the Greiner government in 1988.A previous study found that completing the 35km link from Wollongong to the main Southern Line at Maldon would expand commercial and employment opportunities at Port Kembla's port, create construction jobs and provide a freight alternative to roads.But the potential $550 million price tag almost doubled previous estimates.The feasibility report was expected to assess the existing infrastructure, engineering requirements and likely demand for the proposed line, as well as conduct detailed economic and financial modelling.A spokeswoman for Mr Albanese said the study would be released when "properly considered".She did not respond to questions over when the Government received the findings, what the consideration process entailed or when it would be released.The Maldon-Dombarton line is high on the wish-list of major business groups including RDA Illawarra and the Illawarra Business Chamber.South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris previously called on Mr Albanese to intervene in the study, claiming that data available to the consultants was kept from the project's reference group, of which he was a member.Last week he insisted the region did not need consultants to confirm the project's benefits, predicting the report would answer outstanding questions on technical, engineering and cost issues."What we need to do, with all due respect to the consultants, is work out the best way to fund it and the shortest period of time to get approval and get this happening," Mr Rorris said.The Government has previously warned that the study could turn up engineering and environmental issues that could affect the project's viability.RDA Illawarra chairman Eddy De Gabriele said should the line prove unviable in the short term, it need not mean the end of the project."The economic feasibility is one element of consideration … you can't build something and expect it to be self-sufficient from day one," he said.

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