10 January 2023

Wagga and Junee residents propose alternative solutions for Inland Rail Project

| Patrick Morrow
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Some Wagga residents have proposed their own solutions to reduce the impact of rail on the CBD. Photo: Patrick Morrow.

Riverina residents have been coming up with their own solutions to keep freight trains out of Wagga’s CBD following the Inland Rail Project forum held at Wagga and Junee libraries on Thursday.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) released its summary of findings for the Albury to Illabo section of the project this week, raising concerns over traffic disruptions and noise.

The ARTC concluded that the Wagga section of the Inland rail project would see minor, permanent changes to the road network at Edmondson Street bridge and would impact the motorists with a 17-minute wait for the train to pass at the Fernleigh Rd crossing in Wagga.

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An ARTC spokeswoman confirmed the project would enable “1,800 metre-long, double-stacked freight trains to travel between Melbourne and Brisbane increasing the capacity and resilience of the national rail network to help meet Australia’s growing freight task”.

While residents expressed concerns over noise and vibration, she suggested that the line would only see an additional two trains a day in the first year and a daily peak of 20 trains a day (an increase of eight) by 2040.


The InLand Rail project will cost the taxpayer over $14 billion. Photo: ARTC.

The nation-building project will cost the taxpayer over $14 billion and has been met with some opposition from rural landholders and towns that will be impacted.

Councilor Richard Foley attended the forum and expressed dissatisfaction with the current consultation process, which he described as “stealth-like” and urged locals to put in their submissions before the window closes next month.

“If they don’t listen to those submissions that are factored in, well, then they have got to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

“Clearly, this wants some type of compromise.”

In Junee, Mayor Neil Smith acknowledged there would be disruptions to the Olympic Hwy and only limited changes to the heritage-listed station.

He said the forum became confrontational when one local became visibly upset and lashed out over the potential loss of land.

“It was quite tense due to a local farmer who will be deeply impacted by the project as it will divide his farm in half, which is sad,” he explained.

“Hopefully there is a compromise to come into effect.”

Some Wagga residents have been offering their own solutions, including Keith Holder who has mapped out an alternative route to bypass Wagga’s CBD by travelling West from Bomen.

“Quite a few people have now seen this and they agree with it 100 per cent,” he said.

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Wagga’s ratepayers Association’s Chris Roach is on board.

“They need to cost any inconvenience of new bridges and the potential damage to houses close by the railway line,” Mr Roach said.

“We lose all of that just by bypassing the CBD and across Bomen through the floodplain, crossing over to the back of the city, straight through to the Kapooka bridge, which is where our line continues.”

Mr Holder said he hopes to have his proposed designs included in the submission process.

An ARTC spokeswoman said in a statement that they remain committed to “working closely and respectfully with landholders and local communities throughout the design, development, and construction of Inland Rail”.

She added that all submissions would be considered and that “operational noise and vibration will be reviewed again during the detailed design phase and community members identified as being potentially impacted will be consulted on mitigation options.”

A summary of the findings can be found here.

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