Wagners challenge $235m rail transfer hub InterlinkSQ
THE business might of Wagners is considering competing with a $235 million rail transfer station in the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub for the lucrative inland rail freight business.
Chairman Denis Wagner said there had been discussions with the Australian Rail Track Corporation about the route of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project.
Wagners wants the route to come past the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport.
Mr Wagner said the company had a view that at some time in the future, it could be feasible to run a fast passenger train service from Brisbane to Wellcamp airport.
He said there was a drive to ensure the rail route did come close to the airport so the company could cater for fast passenger services.
He said if there was an opportunity to set up a freight hub, that would be considered on its merits.
That would be in direct competition with the $235 million rail transfer at InterlinkSQ, down the road at Charlton.
But Mr Wagner said the two could co-exist.
"If we do something there's no reason it should change what Freight Terminals and InterlinkSQ are doing.
"We don't see any reason why there can't be a rail hub at Wellcamp as well."
He said when a route was determined the company could talk with more confidence about opportunities going forward.
In 2010 a route was proposed that would not have passed the airport.
Mr Wagner said at that time the airport wasn't even on the drawing board.
"Circumstances have changed, we've got an international airport servicing this region.
"It would be very short-sighted of the government not to bring the rail adjacent to the airport."
Mr Wagner said he understood a route would be determined by ARTC in the first quarter of next year.
ARTC announced it would review the route after farmers in Millmerran raised concerns, and a report prepared by the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation favoured a route through the Southern Downs.
Mr Wagner said all of the options would see the route pass through the Toowoomba region.
InterLinkSQ chief executive officer Michelle Reynolds while she welcomed competition, it was her firm belief that InterlinkSq offered a better solution for transport and logistics operators in the Toowoomba region.
She said InterlinkSQ had been in the planning phase for a long time and was construction ready.
The group announced in October that $20 million of projects would be for grabs in its procurement process.
Ms Reynolds said the InterlinkSQ would be operational on the Queensland line about five to eight years before the inland rail project.
"I see InterlinkSQ and Wellcamp airport working hand in hand throughout the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub," she said.
Ms Reynolds said the inland rail project was not about passenger rail.
She listed a number of issues raised by mixing the two services, including tunnel upgrades, the electrification of trains, disruptions to freight trains and the need for wider lines.
She said the rail corridor would likely be future-proofed for passenger rail, but that two separate lines needed to be built.
She said no studies had been done on passenger rail, and that they needed to be done before any decision on the route.
Ms Reynolds said time was of the essence for the project - which has already been delayed by six months due to concerns over the route.
"The Federal Government is trying to get money into next year's budget - that's in May - and they still don't know where the line goes and how much it will cost."
The Chronicle contacted ARTC for comment regarding the Wagners proposal.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester announced the appointment of Mr Bruce Wilson to the role of chair of the Yelarbon to Gowrie Project Reference Group on November 30.
The group will provide local community input on the review of alignment options for this section project.
The options being considered include:
- Current route from Inglewood through Millmerran
- A route through Karara and Leyburn
- A route closer to Warwick
- A route or connection to the Charlton and Wellcamp areas