Magazine article Business Asia

Rail Project Set for '99 Start

Magazine article Business Asia

Rail Project Set for '99 Start

Article excerpt

Many of the challenges facing the Adelaide-to-Darwin railway project have been overcome and the Northern Territory Government expects construction to begin this year.

The final bids from the three short-listed consortia are expected at the end of March. The AustralAsia Railway Corporation is expected to recommend a preferred consortium to the Northern Territory and South Australian Governments by June.

The rail link is seen as a crucial component in the Territory's push to become a regional business hub, opening the way for more Australian exports to be delivered to Asia via Darwin.

According to NT Railway Minister Mr Barry Coulter, final negotiations are expected to be concluded after June, with construction of the Alice Springs-to-Darwin section of the project starting in the second half of 1999.

"Completion of the railway will put in place the last component of an integrated transport system, with the project providing a high bulk, long haul land-sea transport system servicing trade between Australia and Asia," Mr Coulter said.

"This is not a project about a railway alone. It is about the regional development of northern Australia, a region that I expect will join Western Australia as one of the nation's economic powerhouses early next century."

The Territory Government late last year finalised agreements with the Northern and Central Aboriginal Land Councils, which secured land tenure for the rail corridor between Alice Springs and Darwin. It was the last major hurdle to confront government and the consortia involved in the project. …

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