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Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
Goods ranging from cornflakes to cars will be among the first 4000 tonnes of freight carried on the inaugural rail journey from Adelaide to Darwin today.
Furniture, steel products, white goods, groceries, appliances and fuel are being loaded on to dozens of carriages which will stretch 1199m as the train heads off to cross the continent.
FreightLink chief executive Bruce McGowan said a strong response from transport companies would lead to 350,000 tonnes of freight a year being moved on the line, growing to 800,000 tonnes a year by 2010.
``South Australia is well positioned to be a major supply source for the Territory,'' he said.
Mr McGowan said products needed in the Northern Territory for large construction, mining and energy projects _ but which are not produced there _ could be supplied from SA.
He said the state could also become a hub and distribution centre for imports bound for the eastern states and Western Australia.
The positive outlook for trade is shared by Pacific National terminal manager Greg Voight.
``There's no doubt there's huge opportunity for growth that's been lacking in the past,'' he said. ``We used to have that awkward situation where we had to transfer from rail to road at Alice Springs.
``Now it will be possible to go (from) Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide to Darwin without exchange.''
Mr McGowan said the railway was already competing favourably with road and sea freight systems.
``We've had a very positive response. We feel there has been very strong support for the rail,'' he said.
Mr McGowan said dozens of permanent jobs had been created in business development, marketing, freight sales, loading, train operating and maintenance.
``It's a real opportunity for business, for trade, for tourism and we think it's going to be successful,'' he said.
The freight train will leave the Adelaide freight terminal at Regency Park at 10.15am NT time today.
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