$50m rail upgrade to take 25,000 trucks a year off roads
UPDATE: A $50 million upgrade of Toowoomba Range rail infrastructure will take 25,000 trucks a year off south-east Queensland's roads, according to the State Government.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson made the announcement in Toowoomba.
Mr Emerson said the investment in rail infrastructure was aimed at the agricultural sector in a bid to get crop transport off the roads and onto rail.
"The industry has told us this is what they wanted," Mr Emerson said.
"It is about getting the grain and cotton trucks off the roads.
"This is a great win for grain and cotton producers as it will provide the most significant increase in train paths in decades," he said.
Mr Emerson said the investment was made possible after re-negotiating existing contracts with Aurizon.
"Up to 20 additional train paths per week will be made available for farmers," he said.
"We particularly want to see the agricultural sector using rail instead of roads.
"This will result in about 100,000 less trucks using James St over the next four years."
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said this was a major win for grain and cotton producers across the region.
"We have been working on an agricultural strategy for more than six months," Mr McVeigh said.
"This is what the industry has told us they wanted.
"Toowoomba is already a freight gateway for western Queensland and this will allow us to get the balance right between road and rail," he said.
Member for Toowoomba North Trevor Watts said once the project was up-and-running residents would notice a difference on the city's roads.
"At grain and cotton harvesting times, this will take significant pressures off James St and the Toowoomba Range," he said.
- Two new rail passing loops to be built at Harlaxton and Ballard.
- Will cost about $50 million and will be up-and-running within two years.
- Each rail passing loop will be about one kilometre in length.
EARLIER: UP TO $50 million will be spent on Toowoomba Range rail infrastructure by the Queensland Government, funding extra passing loops for crop-hauling trains.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson and Agriculture Minister John McVeigh jointly announced the deal today to improve the way farmers moved their produce.
Mr Emerson said it was a win for grain and cotton farmers, who would benefit from the largest increase of rail paths "in decades".
It was part of the government's plan to improve rail support for agriculture, which included more cattle services between travelling from Winton or Cloncurry to Brisbane.
Mr McVeigh said the $50 million come from savings made from re-negotiating freight contracts.
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It meant 20 extra train paths would be available for farmers wanting to move their crops by rail instead of by road.
"Toowoomba is already a freight gateway for western Queensland and this will allow us to get the balance right between road and rail," Mr McVeigh said.