The former Track Manager of the Cowra to Blayney rail line, Brian Fisher, believes that the line could be re-opened for less than $100,000, rather than the figures expressed by the state government.
“I see figures of $20m and $40m mooted for the re-opening in disbelief,” he said, “Blayney to Cowra could be recommissioned for under $100,000, the same for Demondrille, Bendick, Murrell.”
Mr Fisher was based at Harden and was responsible for track and infrastructure that encompassed almost 500 kilometres from Yass to Cootamundra, Galong - Boorowa, Demondrille - Blayney, Koorawatha – Grenfell and Cowra - Eugowra.
Mr Fisher places the responsibility of the degradation of rail lines squarely on the Greiner State Government in the 1980’s.
“They killed rail because they never looked at the cost of running all those trucks on the road and the damage that they did to the surface,” he said, “It’s so much cheaper to fix a rail line rather than to repair a road surface.”
Offering the lines up to smaller operators rather than the current multinationals is the solution, Mr Fisher said.
“My plan would be to establish a company structure, employing former rail staff on a contract basis with their own ABN's. Locally based, owned and operated as opposed to some multinational,” he said. “We could re-engage local timber mills at Grenfell and Eugowra to re-supply sleepers, bridge transoms and turnout timbers employing local people, revitalising the local towns.”
Once re-opened for lighter freight, Mr Fisher believes that the lines could be upgraded with locally made concrete sleepers and second hand rail.
“Upgraded to concrete sleeper track the class 3 line would become class 1 line, the class 5 lines such as Cowra to Eugowra and Koorawatha to Grenfell lines would be upgraded to class 3 lines with larger locomotives able to travel over the lines.
“For under $200k we could see trains operating between Cowra and Blayney, and Demondrille and Bendick servicing Cowra and Young.