Silverton Tramway Company Ltd
The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO: My question without notice is addressed to the Treasurer, and Minister for State Development. Will the Treasurer inform the House how regional New South Wales has benefited from the recent introduction of open access regimes to rail?
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: Honourable members would be aware that in New South Wales—in fact, in all jurisdictions now—there are open access regimes to the rail systems. Following the introduction of open access regimes, the Silverton Tramway Company, known also as Silverton, sought and was granted rail safety accreditation to operate in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Silverton established a regional railway operation based at Parkes in the Central West of New South Wales in July 1999 and has established alliances with the major operators in the region for the on-carriage of products beyond its regional catchment.
Silverton successfully negotiated the purchase of 98 surplus locomotives following the sale of FreightCorp and National Rail and is in the process of refurbishing and repainting locomotives to add to its operational fleet. Silverton currently operates 28 locomotives—two in Broken Hill, two in both Sydney and Melbourne and the balance out of Parkes—together with 450 wagons, most of which operate out of the Parkes depot. Over the past 12 months the company has overseen remarkable regional employment growth, increasing its staff by 70, from 73 to 143. The company has also established new depots in Cobar, Gulgong, Dubbo and Newcastle, and in addition to the haulage service that Silverton offers, it also carries out both maintenance and recovery services for other rail operators who require service in the Central West of New South Wales.
Silverton believes that its main area of expansion will be in regional areas and is looking to further expand both its fleet and its personnel. The Silverton Tramway Company is not a newcomer to rail; it holds a significant place in history of New South Wales rail. It was incorporated in 1886 by an Act of New South Wales Parliament and was granted the right to operate a railway from the newly discovered ore deposits at Silverton to the South Australian border at Cockburn, the project being extended to Broken Hill with the discovery of that field. The railway was the sole means of transport between Broken Hill and South Australia for many years and was instrumental in the establishment of the city and the development of the mines and smelters. Large quantities of passengers, livestock, bullion, ore and concentrates were carried over the system.
Since 1886 the company has hauled some 84 million tonnes of bulk and general freight and 2.8 million passengers over an aggregate of 19 million kilometres. It is encouraging to hear that a small regional company is benefiting from the reforms that the Government made to New South Wales rail, and I wish Silverton all the best as it seeks to become the regional operator of choice in New South Wales.