A study looking into the feasibility of reopening rail lines from Blayney to Demondrille, Cowra to Eugowra, and Koorawatha to Grenfell has commenced following strong community interest.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the study would look at engineering requirements for reinstating the rail line as a whole, consider freight industry demand, maintenance costs, as well as land use and environmental planning issues.

“The commencement of this study exploring the feasibility of reopening the Cowra Lines as a whole is incredibly welcome. It’s an absolute priority for Cowra, Weddin and Hilltops, Forbes and Blayney Councils and I have advocated strongly for this since I became Member,” Ms Cooke said.

“The study will take a full picture approach which previous studies haven’t, looking at the strategic link between the main western and southern line and the potential to leverage freight as a whole with Inland Rail.

“The Cowra lines feasibility study is one of four feasibility studies funded under the Fixing Country Rail program and is set to be completed by early 2020,” Ms Cooke added.

Cowra Shire Council was nominated as the lead Council for the purposes of the study, to coordinate communication between the five Councils and Transport NSW.

Mayor of Cowra Bill West welcomed the expanded scope of the study.

“It is pleasing to see this feasibility study being undertaken.  Whilst freight volume is important, it is vital to note that this study will look at issues around the strategic benefits of linking the southern and western line, reducing congestion on the western line and through the Sydney corridor, as well as benefits to Lachlan Valley Rail,” Cr West said.

Across regional NSW 20 rail projects have shared funding of almost $211 million from Fixing Country Rail since the Pilot Round.

These have included major rail upgrades with new signaling, line reactivations, crossing loops and track upgrades to allow for faster, longer or heavier trains.

The Fixing Country Rail program complements the successful Fixing Country Roads initiative, with both focusing on improving regional freight infrastructure and efficiency.