Opinion: Mayor's vision for rail replacement

As humans we spend a lot of time thinking about the future. Dreaming, talking and planning.

Then when opportunity arises it can be easier to put off those plans because they are for the 'future' - another time, another place. But at a certain point we need to take action, to bring our vision of the 'future' to life.

It's no secret that The Barossa Council has big plans for the future of the region, having aptly named our 35 year community infrastructure plan 'The Big Project'! Although we have already mapped out most of these plans, we continue to seek opportunities that ensure the Barossa is the best it can be, both for our community and our visitors.

Therefore when Transport Minister Stephan Knoll MP announced early last month that the State Government had released a tender seeking expressions of interest for future use of the Barossa rail corridor, we realised we had to get in the game and see where it could end up. No promises, sure, but we have chosen to get involved.

We are fortunate in our region that as a Council we are surrounded by big thinking businesses, such as Chateau Tanunda and First Drop Wines, and a progressive Regional Development Board who are just as keen to future proof the Barossa. Add in a couple of industry innovators, namely SAGE Automation and Leyton Funds Management, and together we are forging ahead with our exciting proposal for the future of the Barossa rail corridor.

Its early days and the work we are facilitating is just a start to explore what we may be able to achieve together. Council are not public transport suppliers, rather advocates in this space.

Let's be clear that Council is not going to provide "public transport" but rather try to find new and innovative ways to use this corridor for the benefit of the economy and community.

Imagine: An extension of existing passenger rail from Gawler to Concordia. A connection from Concordia to the Barossa Valley floor. Then, once in the heart of the Barossa, a fully autonomous vehicle which connects our major townships of Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Angaston, and potentially beyond while not being constrained by a railway corridor but rather on-road connectively once future, safety and commercially proofed.

We may or may not pull this off but importantly we are having a go and thinking forward for the next 35+ years: A connected and sustainable Barossa-Gawler region, which contributes to the reduction in carbon emissions and traffic congestion, services a future growth area, creates permanent local jobs and improves equitable public transport access to our regional community.

This is the future, and the future is now.