The Maritime Union of Australia has welcomed today's announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard supporting the completion of the Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link project.
The Prime Minister today announced $25 million to fund technical engineering and planning requirements, which will advance the project to the "shovel stage".
MUA Southern NSW Branch Secretary Garry Keane said the South Coast Labour Council, in conjunction with the CFMEU and MUA, had been lobbying for the project for some time.
"Today's announcement brings us an important step closer towards bringing the Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link to reality," Mr Keane said.
"This is the missing link when it comes to transport infrastructure in the Illawarra and is a crucial in enabling Port Kembla to fulfill its potential as an international cargo transit hub and we welcome the Prime Minister's announcement.
"This project is important - not just to the local economy but also as a piece of critical national infrastructure as both Port Kembla and the southwestern mining sector continue to expand.
"The MUA sees today's announcement as a vital part of the Gillard government's National Ports Strategy and it also fits in well with plans for shipping reform."
It follows a recent feasibility study which concluded a new rail line would support the rapidly expanding resources sector in New South Wales by giving the mining sector more direct access to Port Kembla.
The study found the railway line would also free up capacity along the existing Illawarra Line for additional passenger services and assist in providing additional rail capacity for transport from the Port Botany terminal facilities easing road congestion in that area..
The Prime Minster said today that the final project would connect the Main North South Line directly to Port Kembla via Dombarton.
This new piece of rail infrastructure would also consist of two passing loops, bridges over the Nepean and Cordeaux Rivers and one of Australia's longest tunnels.
"The additional $25 million in Federal Government funding will ensure the project advances to the next stage and provides confidence that the Maldon to Dombarton rail link will finally be completed. This is great news for the Illawarra region," Mr Keane said.