Mayor calls for end to speculation about Inland Rail route
TOOWOOMBA region Mayor Paul Antonio has called for an end to speculation around changes to Australian Rail Track Corporation's proposed alignment for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project.
Cr Antonio said the route put forward by ARTC, endorsed by Infrastructure Australia and the Inland Rail Implementation Group chaired by John Anderson, would see the line cross the Toowoomba region between Millmerran and Kingsthorpe, then through Gowrie and The Toowoomba Range.
"The most recent alignment study, which was undertaken in 2010, considered an exhaustive range of alternatives to develop the optimum alignment and made clear recommendations about the most commercially viable, cost-effective and environmentally sound route," Cr Antonio said
"We believe the proposed route, which has been developed after very careful analysis, is the right fit for this nation-building project.
"That said, we do believe there may be some minor amendments needed to protect good agricultural land across the Darling Downs, particularly around Brookstead and Mt Tyson, as well as the Bringalilly, Millwood and Clontarf areas near Millmerran.
"We also believe an amendment to allow for an intermodal node at the highly productive area of Goondiwindi has merit.
"However, further discussions about major changes to the alignment will only delay the project and dilute the case for this project to be built as soon as possible," he said.
"Council has been planning for this project for some time and the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub has progressed with this project in mind.
"Talks of major changes to the alignment could see Queensland left behind as the route works its way up from the south encouraging industry and jobs to relocate over the border."
The proposed alignment delivers a journey time of less than 24 hours from Melbourne to Brisbane.
John Anderson, chair of the Inland Rail Implementation Group and former Deputy Prime Minister, said the government needed to move on finalising the proposed route to allow the project to proceed as soon as possible.
"As the government mobilises after the election, the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project must be the number one infrastructure priority for our nation," Mr Anderson said.
"It is my hope that the negotiations with the Queensland Government in finalising the proposed route, focus on the broad locality recommended by the 2010 alignment study, which carefully considered efficiency, travel time, commercial benefit and environmental impact.
"This is a nation building infrastructure project and will bring remarkable economic benefits right across the east coast of Australia. We cannot afford to delay the project any further."
More information about the proposed route can be viewed at http://inlandrail.artc.com.au/route