Inland rail line a ‘dog’: Rickuss

Lockyer MP Warren Rickuss
Lockyer MP Warren Rickuss

A state MP has ridiculed plans to extend the inland rail project to Kagaru, linking the line with  Beaudesert’s emerging Bromelton development area.

The federal government committed $8.4 billion to the project in this year's budget.

At the time Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen said the project, linking Melbourne and Brisbane via an inland network comprising new and existing track, had cemented Bromelton's position as a nationally significant freight and logistics hub.

But Lockyer MP Ian Rickuss said the Toowoomba to Kagaru section was not feasible, as it headed south away from its destination through difficult terrain.  

“This route was selected by (then) Labor transport minister Paul Lucas as it was the second or third preference for efficiency and cost but was first preference as a political decision to have the route avoid the electorates of Ipswich West, Ipswich, Bundamba and Algester,” he said.

“There appears to be no concern that the line will cost $50,000 a metre which equates to $50 million a kilometre.  

“This route is about 50 kilometre longer than the original preferred route and is at best going to Acacia Ridge which is still 40 kilometre from the Brisbane port.

“The obvious solution is for local goods destined for Brisbane to decant in Toowoomba and for export goods to continue on to Gladstone or use the Melbourne or Sydney port that already have rail connection.”

Mr Rickuss said the Toowoomba to Kagaru section was to be done as a public-private partnership, which would allow for more political procrastination.

“This is the most expensive and unviable section of the Melbourne to Brisbane project. A private investor will be hard to find for this uneconomical dog of a project,” he said.

Mr Rickuss said there also was little demand from commuters should the infrastructure be used for passenger rail.

“This has been proved by numerous bus companies who have offered tailored high quality services, such as connecting with transit centres, WiFi on the bus etcetera, yet the demand was small.

“Local mayors continue to push for taxpayer-subsidised public transport because it’s an easy option for them as they have very little skin in the game.

“It has been commented that public transport is middle class welfare with the taxpayer paying about 80 per cent of the real cost of fares in Queensland.”