‘Great opportunity’ for Inland Rail Gladstone extension
Extending the multi-billion dollar Inland Rail line to Gladstone hinges on Federal Government funding with the company in charge of the project welcoming the proposal.
The pressure is on the Federal Government to fund the extension, which would bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue to Central Queensland.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) states the Inland Rail is a 1700km freight rail line that would connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
“Inland Rail is a fast freight backbone that will transform how we move goods around Australia, generating opportunities for our regions and our economy, now and well into the future,” the ARTC states.
As Queensland’s road toll continues to escalate year-on-year, moving road freight to the Inland Rail will help put the brakes on the road toll.
Current plans have the Inland Rail track terminating at Brisbane.
But as The Observer revealed on Wednesday, plans exist, designs have been done and environmental approval has been granted for a route, which ends in a State Development Area, at Gladstone.
According to the submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport, by Regional Development Australia Central and Western Queensland (RDACWQ) deputy chairman John Abbott, an initial narrow gauge option, with two new sections dual gauge ready, would cost $1.4 billion.
The Toowoomba to Gladstone section of the Inland Rail would run via Miles to Wandoan, then to Banana and on to Gladstone.
A rail extension from Toowoomba to Gladstone was identified by the RDACWQ as one of the 11 top priorities for the region.
The Inland Rail extension to Gladstone has the wholehearted support of Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd.
“I will not stop lobbying the department of infrastructure, transport and regional development for them to consider Gladstone as an option,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“The Inland Rail will also drive significant investment in regional communities, create local jobs and contribute millions to local and national economies.”
An ARTC spokeswoman said there was “great opportunity” for the Inland Rail to be extended.
“At the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) we support freight on rail and there is great opportunity for additional lines to run off the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail,” the spokeswoman said.
“Where the Federal Government deems necessary we will support any additional work to expand Inland Rail’s connection to the broader network and more locations.
“The primary purpose of Inland Rail is to move everyday goods around Australia to where it is needed.
“The reason the route starts in Melbourne and terminates in Brisbane is basic supply and demand as south-east Queensland is the second fastest growing area in the country – every new person needs more goods which results in more freight.”