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Vic, NSW, Premier hints at upgrade
BRAD WORRALL
Border Mail, Albury/Wodonga, 29/09/2008 12:00:00 AM

John Brumby is aware of line.
JOHN Brumby has hinted that funding for the upgrade of Benalla-Oaklands rail line is imminent.
On Friday in Wodonga, the Victorian Premier said investing in the freight spur was under consideration.
Mr Brumby also said he fully understood the significance and importance of the line.
The freight spur carries about 250,000 tonnes of grain each year.
Early estimates suggest this harvest could top 400,000 tonnes.
But the line, which carries the produce of farmers in the Oaklands, Yarrawonga and Benalla corridor, risks being isolated from main rail line to shipping ports if it is not converted to standard gauge at the same time as the Wodonga-Seymour line.
Supporters want the work to be completed before the end of next year.
Last week at the sod-turning for the Wodonga rail bypass, Mr Brumby admitted the line was a crucial link to the export terminals.
“I understand fully the significance and importance of the Benalla-Oaklands line,” he said.
“It is a crucial line, it is a crucial part of the rail freight hub but I’m not able to make an announcement about it today.
“But it is under close consideration and it is an integral part of our rail system.
“We are conscious of the issue and it is under active consideration as we speak.”
Mr Brumby said the Government was relying on Tim Fischer’s rail freight review to prioritise projects.
“It was one of the lines recommended in the Fischer review as a silver category, remembering that what Tim Fischer did was establish priorities as gold, silver and bronze lines,” he said.
“What we have done is announce funding for all of the gold lines, something like $41 million, we have also announced recently with the Australian Rail Track Corporation some funding for some of the silver lines.
“In relation to Benalla-Oaklands we have not yet made a decision on that, our first priority was to invest in the gold lines.
“But any decision will be made in a timely way.”
Victorian Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder says conversion will cost $13 million.
The local MP thinks it will cost $13 million to redo the line to SG. Now even if this cost doubled, it would mean there is an alternative route available between The Rock and Benella. A very small price to pay, to be able to keep a line open in case of issues at Albury, or to take more traffic.