Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New rail tunnel may be privatised

A PROPOSED $7 billion rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield could be privatised under funding options being considered by the Brumby Government and being backed by Metlink, the body that promotes Melbourne's public transport operations.

The Government has also refused to rule out fare increases to help pay for the tunnel.

The tunnel was among the key proposals in Sir Rod Eddington's report earlier this year on east-west transport options for Melbourne.

As the Government considers its response to the Eddington report, it has emerged that Metlink's submission to the inquiry included private finance options for rail projects.

Metlink's chief executive, Bernie Carolan, said the Footscray-Caulfield rail tunnel would be an attractive private financing opportunity because it was a "stand-alone" line and not an add-on to an existing line.

"This sort of rail tunnel proposition lends itself to it (private financing) more than most public transport initiatives simply because it is stand-alone," he told The Age.

Rail lines in Sydney and Brisbane have already been built using private finance.

Metlink, a strong advocate of the rail tunnel proposal, would prefer public funding for the project, but would support private finance to ensure it is built.

The operation of Melbourne's train and tram system was privatised by the Kennett government in 1999, but the state has retained the ownership of the tracks and trains...

Read the rest at http://www.theage.com.au/national/new-rail-tunnel-may-be-privatised-20080714-3f43.html

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