Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999

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Parliamentary Record 20


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 23 November 1999 every 8 weeks ensuring travelling distance from camp to camp is kept to a minimum of 50 kilometres. I would imagine theres lots of opportunities there for Alice Springs business people to service those camps, to even be involved in provision of the camps. Construction of the railway will require 50 million cubic metres of earthworks. We all know the number of engineering companies in the Territory that will be looking at this. The major activities include the provision of an access road along the alignment, clearing of the alignment, stripping of top soil, putting the foundations down and so on. There is a huge amount of work offered there for those companies that we already know are active in the Territory. There will be a large number of bridges constructed, particularly in the Top End. Obviously the construction of the railway seems to be less difficult from Tennant Creek to Alice because of the terrain, but certainly it will be quite an engineering feat when you are talking about going from Katherine to Darwin. It will require a huge amount of concrete. All that pre-stressed steel will have to come from the south and be delivered to Tennant Creek and Katherine where they will have the sleeper factories. These sleeper factories that will be established at each depot will manufacture about 12 500 sleepers per week in Katherine and 16 000 sleepers per week in Tennant Creek. We are talking about a huge amount of construction and industry going on at any one time. Camps, bridges, laying of the foundations for the line construction in Tennant Creek and Katherine, delivery of material. It is going to be a smorgasbord of opportunities for businesses in the Territory. I know there was a little bit of concern in Alice Springs about sand and ballast and where that was going to come from. I have been told that 4 strategic ballast sites have been identified by the government which are close to the rail corridor, offer good quality material, and avoid sacred sites. The location of these sites is approximately 70kms and 285kms north of Alice Springs, 15kms north of Tennant Creek and 3 5kms north of Katherine. The consortium may also choose to use other sites as well in other regional centres. All in all, 2.2 million cubic metres of ballast will be required. That is why I say quite often that I cannot get my head around the magnitude of this project. I am quite sure after hearing the member for Stuart speak he hasnt even begun to think about it. In general, the construction of the railway is expected to bring significant benefits to the Alice Springs community as a service centre, employment centre, rest and recreational area, and transport centre. There will be some population growth that comes with the construction period. Once the railway is operating, it is expected that there will be some loss of jobs in the road transport industry as freight previously hauled along the north-south corridor by road switches to rail haulage, but it is not expected that all freight will switch to the rail. The jobs are expected to be offset by those going through the rail maintenance yard. Even now, not all rail freight goes on the railway line to Alice Springs. There is still a number of road transport operators who prefer to use road trains. They believe it is faster and more efficient. In addition, there will still be a need for road transport to interface with the rail operations. The focus may change from long road haulage to shorter operations, together with an increase in demand for long haul road transport east of Tennant Creek and west of Katherine. Both these markets are capable of being served by Alice Springs-based transport companies. It is hoped that the Northern Territory road transport industry, which will continue to serve the economic development of the Territory, will use the 3-year boom period of the railway construction phase to plan and compete and work with the railway for the benefit of Territorians and themselves. The agreement with the preferred consortium ensures that there is no scope for operational subsidies to be paid to the consortium. As the Chief Minister mentioned, the risks associated with the construction and operations of the railway remain the responsibility of the consortium. Lets not forget for one minute that for our $ 165m we are getting a $1200m project. Thats not a bad deal in anyones terms. The member for Stuart has also been on the public record talking about the number of trains that will go through Alice Springs and how that will affect the town. Goodness gracious me! All the doom and gloom again. There are already a number of trains going into Alice Springs. We have 6 freight trains and 2 passenger trains per week. I live on the western side of the railway line. If you ask me how often I get held up at the railway crossing or how often I have sleepless nights because I get disturbed by a goods train as it comes in, let me say that it does not happen at all. You can plan your work, your travel around it. If you know exactly when the Ghan is leaving you do not get caught up. There are other ways you can get around the railway line. You can go in other directions, if you need to. But even if you are delayed, it is not for very long at all. In fact, it has 4756