Scenic Rim Council voices official concern over Inland Rail management

INQUIRY: The council submission flagged safety of level crossings and noise among their concerns about the Inland Rail projects coming through the Scenic Rim.
INQUIRY: The council submission flagged safety of level crossings and noise among their concerns about the Inland Rail projects coming through the Scenic Rim.

SCENIC Rim council has approved a senate inquiry submission into the management of the Inland Rail Project by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the Australian government.

With two Inland Rail projects passing through the Scenic Rim region, Mayor Greg Christensen said it was critically important council to speak up on maintaining the balance between economic growth and preserving the region's quality of lifestyle.

"Council is optimistic about the opportunities the Inland Rail project provides in terms of regional economic development, but understands the project in its current form provides concerns for members across the community," Cr Christensen said.

In the submission, council advocated for the use of bridges/over passes rather than the proposed level crossings to ensure the solution is future-proofed to manage the expected volume of rail freight traffic in the long-term.

"At this stage the design only consists of four bridges with level crossings identified on the other four road/rail intersection," Cr Christensen said.

"This of course poses risks to our community's safety, and with more than 45 trains measuring almost two kilometres in length expected to pass through the region each day by 2040, level crossing delays pose major productivity issues for local businesses and residents.

"Also critically important to the safety of our communities is the need to invest heavily in upgrades to the already congested Mount Lindesay Highway due to the expected increase in heavy vehicle usage from the Bromelton Intermodal hub.".

Cr Christensen said there were also concerns that the current design had not made any allowances to minimise the adverse impacts of noise from the rail freight traffic.

"Council will continue to seek noise mitigating solutions from ARTC in order to preserve the quiet enjoyment of property and to maintain the region's reputation as a desirable eco- tourism destination," said Cr Christensen.

ARTC's Inland Rail boss Richard Wankmuller said both level crossing and noise issues would be addressed.

"We understand the sensitivities around noise and studies are underway to determine exactly what the noise levels are and hence what impacts may be likely, and these studies will help us determine what mitigations need to take place," he said.

"The road infrastructure needs will also be looked at as part of the business case reviews for the intermodal terminals and an appropriate action plan will be put in place once these locations and the associated traffic patterns are known.

"In relation to level crossings, public safety is the number one priority.

"We use the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model to determine whether a level crossing should be passively controlled (i.e. signs) or actively controlled (i.e. lights and/or boom gates) or whether there should be a grade separation of road over rail or rail over road."

Council also called out the short-sightedness of the current route planning, which they said did not align with the economic and nation building rationale behind the project.

"While council understands there are jurisdictional constraints between the Queensland government and the scope of the Inland Rail project, council believes there are some missed opportunities with the current proposal," Cr Christensen said.

"For one, the proposed Salisbury to Beaudesert passenger rail should be examined concurrently and the passenger rail corridor preserved for future development.

"Secondly the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton project is a sub-standard choice given the expected future freight task, the urbanisation throughout the corridor and the reliance on heavy road transport given the congestion of the current rail line to the Port of Brisbane.

"To plan for the long-term, and support successful import/export markets, it is critical the rail connectivity to the Port of Brisbane is highly efficient. Efforts and resources need to be dedicated to a greenfield rail corridor project from Kagaru to the Port of Brisbane.".

Mr Wankmuller saidARTC continued to engage the community and consult with affected landowners in Queensland via the community consultative committees.

"As far as the proposed route goes, the current Interstate railway line (and the future Inland Rail line) is connected to the Port of Brisbane today from Acacia Ridge via an existing dual gauge railway," Mr Wankmuller said.

"Until very recently Acacia Ridge was the only intermodal freight rail terminal in Brisbane and so was the logical terminal to which Inland Rail would connect.

"The Australian and Queensland governments have announced recently that they will jointly fund business cases to examine a dedicated Port of Brisbane connection for freight rail, the Salisbury to Beaudesert passenger and freight rail lines and the potential future location in Brisbane of one or more additional intermodal terminals and distribution centres."

Council said it was committed to guiding and optimising the future economic prosperity of the region while preserving the region's natural assets and prime agricultural land.