Southern rail lines need upgrades: union

THE Queensland Government wants rail to be agriculture's "industry preferred transport mode" and accepts the state's southern lines need a master plan.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson's response to parliamentary transport committee investigation into increasing agricultural rail freight supported the need for new master plans for the West Moreton, South West and Western train lines.

The committee called for the plans to be given the "highest priority" in order to identify upgrades which could increase train productivity and speed on the lines.

A spokeswoman for Mr Emerson said rail represented an opportunity for primary production.

"Attracting agricultural freight to rail greatly benefits the road network and provides broader safety and environmental benefits," she said.

"Rail is also better placed to deal with industry demands, particularly the transportation of high volumes of freight over long distances.

"We did support the development of a Rail Infrastructure Master Plan however it will require input from rail managers and stakeholders so it truly represents the demand and needs of the industry and must be done in conjunction with the Port Infrastructure Master plan."

Rail, Tram and Bus union state secretary Owen Doogan said agricultural rail freight had been in decline.

"We've always advocated for more agriculture to be on rail," he said.

"Historically our drivers have been working with farmers as well as users at the ports. It has gradually decreased though."

Mr Doogan said Queensland's southern regional lines needed work to ensure they could support an increase in freight traffic.

- APN NEWSDESK


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