Inland Rail project steams ahead

CONTRACTS AWARDED: The first design work contracts have been awarded for the Inland Rail project.
CONTRACTS AWARDED: The first design work contracts have been awarded for the Inland Rail project.

THE Inland Rail project to carry freight between Melbourne and Brisbane, via the Scenic Rim and Logan to Acacia Ridge, is steaming on with support from south-east Queensland mayors.

In a federal government budget submission, the Council of Mayors (South East Queensland) called for the Inland Rail to be extended to the Port of Brisbane to boost economic and efficiency benefits for the region.

The submission stated the project will be a major facilitator for the Bromelton state development area and the Toowoomba enterprise hub.

“Bromelton SDA is currently the only area available in the region for industrial development with access to both the National Standard guage and Queensland gauge rail infrastructure, providing connectivity to Sydney and Brisbane on the existing coastal rail network,” the submission stated.

The mayors state the Bromelton SDA and Inland Rail will open up significant opportunities for logistics facilities and renewal across the region.

The mayors called for consideration of an extension of the Inland Rail to the Port of Brisbane, and for the design to include passenger rail.

ARTC said last year peak freight train numbers of 45 a day between Kagaru and Acacia Ridge were expected by 2040.

The mayors’ submission comes as Australian Rail Track Corporation, the entity delivering the project for the federal government, announces more than $30 million worth of contracts in Queensland for engineering and environmental investigations.

A $3.5 million contract for the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton section was awarded to engineering consultants Hatch.

ARTC’s Inland Rail program delivery director Simon Thomas said the studies were expected to take up to two years.

“We are at the beginning of a lengthy design process for Inland Rail in Queensland,” he said.

“These contracts allow us to progress an important piece of the puzzle with environmental designs from Toowoomba down through the Lockyer Valley, Beaudesert and into Brisbane at Acacia Ridge.”

An ARTC spokesperson said the studies would involve noise, vibration and dust monitoring, ecology, water quality, soils and geology, transport, social and socio-economic factors and land use.

“They will help us understand the impacts of the planned enhancements along this section of existing operational freight rail corridor and inform mitigation measures to be incorporated into the design,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said information would be given to residents adjacent to the rail corridor once the program was confirmed.

The spokesperson said ARTC would publish a detailed environmental assessment report for the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton section and intended to seek public feedback on a draft.

A spokesperson for the community advocacy Inland Rail Action Group said they were disappointed ARTC was not investigating the extension of the Inland Rail to Gladstone.

“The Gladstone port option will benefit the whole of Queensland as a Queensland-owned infrastructure port and benefit other central Queensland mayors, not just Logan and Brisbane,” the spokesperson said.