Rail freight hub CEO tells the Government to 'man up'
THE chief executive officer of what will be the region's major rail freight hub wants the Queensland Government to step up on rail infrastructure.
Interlink SQ is in the process of building a $235 million rail transfer station in the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub.
It wants to transfer freight to the Port of Brisbane but major upgrades are required on railway tunnels down the Toowoomba Range first.
CEO Michelle Reynolds said she wanted the Queensland Government to live up to its commitments to fix the tunnels.
"We want to put containerised freight back on rail," she said.
"At the moment the line is only being used for coal from New Hope Group and a bit of grain from Thallon and Goondiwindi from Graincorp - it's a pathetic indictment on the use of that line.
"In 2013 the Queensland Government announced that they had put money in for the lowering tunnel and putting in two extra passing loops down the Range.
"They re-announced that in this year's budget but now it has gone quiet."
International shipping companies are transitioning from using 8'6" containers to new 9'6" containers.
For Toowoomba to be competitive the region will need to be able to use the new containers, according to Ms Reynolds, but they won't fit down the tunnels.
"They (the companies) own and control containers and we need to be able to get 9'6" containers for us to be able to use the line for containerised freight."
Should the Queensland Government fix up the rail line down the Range?
This poll ended on 13 November 2015.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
The tunnels are heritage listed and the roofs cannot be adjusted so the floors will need to be lowered.
That would be expensive but Ms Reynolds said no real investment had been made in the line for many decades.
Interlink SQ has already stumped up $12 million on land and is preparing to spend many millions more.
"We're looking to bring new rail operators into the market," Ms Reynolds said.
"We've got private investors who are prepared to put up significant amounts of money to get this going but we need the government to make a commitment.
"If we can't get containers through it's going to be a major problem.
"The government needs to man up and do what they've committed to do."
The Australian Government is looking at building an inland railway route from Melbourne to Brisbane, but Ms Reynolds said action needed to start immediately.
She said even at a fast-tracked rate the project was at least eight years away and that the Toowoomba tunnels would likely be completed last.