$10b inland freight project gains momentum

THE $10 billion Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Programme is gaining momentum creating excitement for growers and manufacturers in the region.

In a recent development the Coordinator-General will help progress a 73-km stretch from Toowoomba to Grandchester.

Ipswich West MP Jim Madden said two key sections of the proposed 1710km freight route near Toowoomba had been declared coordinated projects by the state's independent Coordinator-General, who has wide-ranging powers to plan, deliver and coordinate large-scale infrastructure projects, while ensuring their environmental impacts are properly managed.

"The Coordinator-General can now efficiently coordinate the environmental assessment process for the 26km, $1.35 billion Gowrie to Helidon and the 47km, $1 billion Helidon to Calvert sections," Mr Madden said.

"These two adjoining dual-gauge sections could each generate 1800 jobs during their four-year construction phase starting in 2020 and 700 jobs for the 50 years of forecast operation for the entire program."

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is delivering the 10-year freight programme, which will carry 50 intermodal round trips between Melbourne and Brisbane each week by 2050. It has identified a broad corridor but is yet to finalise alignments.      

The project is in 13 sections over a route that runs through regional Victoria and central-west New South Wales.

It crosses the border into Queensland near Yelarbon and will be delivered in five sections to Acacia Ridge. 

Mr Madden said inland rail was forecast to reduce rail freight times from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney by six hours, as well as reducing the freight task's carbon footprint by 750,000 tonnes per year.

"This project could be a real boon to Queensland industry, for both growers and manufacturers," he said.

"However both of these sections will require rigorous planning and engineering to address the potential impacts of flooding in the region."

Mr Madden said the Coordinator-General would release draft terms of reference for environmental impact statements in May.

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