Murray Shire mayor Tom Weyrich believes the investment in the rail network would ease the financial burden on Murray Shire to maintain the region’s roads, under increasing stress from heavy vehicles.TRENT HORNEMAN July 10, 2014 3:23am
Murray Shire mayor Tom Weyrich believes it is time state governments invested in the region’s rail network.
While money has been spent on refurbishing the rail line to Deniliquin, Cr Weyrich wants to see work done on the decommissioned Moulamein line.
Cr Weyrich believes the investment would ease the financial burden on Murray Shire to maintain the region’s roads, under increasing stress from heavy vehicles.
The Moulamein line was decommissioned in the height of the drought in 2004, with less grain coming from paddocks to market, as well as the closure of Echuca’s rice mill.
Councillors at the time, including the late Bob Caldwell, said the prospect of 180,000 tonnes of rice on the road in an average harvest were not acceptable.
‘‘We really don’t think our roads will cope with this amount of traffic,’’ Cr Caldwell said.
‘‘If the roads break up under the weight of these trucks it will put a strain on all funding for the entire road network.’’
A decade later, Cr Weyrich confirmed Cr Caldwell’s concerns, saying the shire’s roads were not coping with the increase in b-triples, road trains and other heavy transport.
‘‘Our forefathers invested in rail and while it might have made sense to close the line in the drought, it would be a good time to bring it back,’’ he said.
Cr Weyrich said a hefty initial refurbishment could have greater savings in the long term, with potential savings of about $500,000 a year for the shire.
‘‘Roads are our single biggest asset,’’ he said.
‘‘Our roads are taking a pounding at the moment, because they are dealing with volumes of traffic not considered at the time they were made.
‘‘It might cost more to refurbish the rail line in the outset, that investment would last for about 15 years, whereas roads are upgraded more often.’’
Cr Weyrich said while he was not against the trucking industry, he said the move would also make the region’s roads safer.
He said it was in the Victorian Government’s interest to have the rail lines open.
‘‘All of this produce will end up at a Victorian port,’’ he said.
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