The Federal Abbott Coalition Government and Queensland’s Newman Government have agreed to investigate incorporating Queensland into the national rail network.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson today met with the Federal Government’s Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) in Canberra to kickstart an investigation into expanding the ARTC’s 8500km national network.
“Over the last 15 years we have seen the ARTC deliver improvements for freight networks across Australia by investing in infrastructure and staff, in return for management of track access,” Mr Truss said.
“Jointly with the Queensland Government we have asked ARTC to investigate the viability of this proposition and carefully weigh up the pros and cons of such a move in Queensland.
“There are a number of factors that still need to be considered and by no means is this a done deal, but it’s important that we have all the facts on the table.”
The ARTC was created as a one-stop shop for Commonwealth and State Governments in 1997 and is responsible for 8500kms of track in Australia.
This includes a 94km section in Queensland between the NSW border and Acacia Ridge, which was transferred to the ARTC in 2010.
Mr Emerson said ARTC officers would begin working with Queensland Rail staff later this week and report back to the Queensland and Federal governments by mid-year.
“Queensland’s Moving Freight strategy shows the freight task is expected to grow by 80 per cent over the next decade and we need a rail network that can do that heavy lifting,” he said.
“Unlike the previous Queensland Labor governments we won’t ignore bottlenecks such as access to the Port of Brisbane, a single track on the Sunshine Coast, and flood prone areas of north Queensland.
“For almost 150 years Queensland’s rail freight network has operated separately from the rest of Australia, and as a result, has missed out on a share of investments provided for the national rail freight network in other states.”
The Queensland rail freight network includes about 6600km of track outside south-east Queensland.