Trucks drive Inland Rail alternative which saves houses
AN alternative Inland Rail route, which does not require suburban southside houses to be knocked down, is being considered by the federal government.
The proposed new route, which terminates near Toowoomba's international airport, would use trucks for the final leg of the journey to bring freight into Brisbane.
It makes use of the state government's $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, which opened to traffic this week.
It would mean all coal trains and export containers would be sent to Gladstone and would rule out the need for multibillion-dollar tunnels between Gowrie and Kagaru.
The proposal was outlined but dismissed in a pre-feasibility study conducted by Deloitte Access Economics for the Port of Brisbane and published on the weekend.
The report said building the track to Gladstone would cost at least $3 billion and Brisbane would remain the favoured destination for both importers and exporters.
It said a direct track to Brisbane was necessary for Queensland to keep pace with its growing population and to keep trucks off the roads and emissions down.
"Furthermore, there would be other additional costs such as … road or rail haulage of products back to Brisbane from Gladstone … it does not help solve Brisbane issues including growing road congestion."
The report's findings were backed up by the track's developer, the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
But Brisbane southside residents, whose houses would be affected by the current Inland Rail route through Hillcrest, Forestdale and Acacia Ridge, have backed the Gladstone proposal as has Queensland Senator and National Party member Matt Canavan.
The Inland Rail Action Group drafted its own proposition which would run a track from Inglewood to Dalby, where a terminal would be built to handle double stacked 1.8km long trains.
IRAG spokesman Stan Corbett said the group's idea would mean southside residents would not be subjected to coal dust or lose their homes.
"The alternative overcomes obvious problems with the privately owned Acacia Ridge marshalling yards and the lack of roads around Acacia Ridge for cargo distribution truck movement," he said.
"Concerns over land resumptions, flooding and train traffic passing over farming land and residential land will be removed.
"Under our plan, the existing rail link connection to the Port of Brisbane will be retained for export containers.
"The future income to the state from export cargo royalties and the wealth from a Queensland-owned port should be a reason to seriously consider our proposal."