Transport for NSW completed a Request for Tender process for the re-opening of the ‘Cowra Lines’ in April 2015 without finding a successful private sector proponent capable of restoring and sustainably operating the lines. This project is now complete. Under a separate initiative, up to $5 million has been allocated from the Fixing Country Rail program to fund the reinstatement of a section of the Cowra Lines, from Maimuru to Demondrille.
The non-operational rail lines from Blayney to Demondrille and Koorawatha to Greenethorpe, known as the ‘Cowra Lines’, were progressively suspended from operation between 2007 and 2009 due to declining freight volumes, high maintenance costs and safety concerns. Following this suspension, the councils of Blayney, Cowra, Weddin and Hilltops (previously Harden and Young) undertook an independent review and strongly supported the reopening of the Lines.
In mid-2013, Transport for NSW and the councils entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a sustainable and integrated road and rail freight model for the region. A Registration of Interest process conducted in late 2013 identified that there was market interest in the Cowra Lines from suitably qualified and experienced private sector proponents. As a result, in 2014 the NSW Government held an 'open tender' inviting private sector proponents to submit tenders on how they would restore, operate and maintain the Cowra Lines on a commercially sustainable basis. The tender process was completed in April 2015. A comprehensive tender evaluation revealed there was too much uncertainty in the ability of the tenderers to return the lines to full service and run a commercially sustainable business without significant government support.