Two key sections of the proposed Inland Rail line have been declared coordinated projects by Queensland’s coordinator-general, in a move the state’s development minister says will give the project a smoother path to fruition.
Queensland state development minister Anthony Lynham on March 17 said the coordinator-general had provided the special status to a 26-kilometre, $1.35 billion section between Gowrie and Helidon, and a 47-kilometre, $1 billion section between Helidon and Calvert.
Lynham said the move meant the state “can now efficiently coordinate the environmental assessment process” for the two key sections of the 1,710-kilometre Inland Rail route.
“These two adjoining dual-gauge sections could each generate 1,800 jobs during their four-year construction phase starting in 2020 and 700 jobs for the 50 years of forecast operation for the entire program,” the minister said.
The Inland Rail project is split into 13 sections that cover the full route through regional Victoria, central-west New South Wales, and south Queensland.
Certain sections are existing track which will be upgraded, while other sections are to be new construction.
The Gowrie to Helidon section will require 26 kilometres of new dual gauge track to be built.
The Helidon to Calvert section will require 47 kilometres of new dual gauge track, with roughly half of to be built within existing rail corridors.
“This project could be a real boon to Queensland industry, for both growers and manufacturers,” Lynham said.
“However both of these sections will require rigorous planning and engineering to address the potential impacts of flooding in the region.”
Federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester said the coordinated project declarations would trigger the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.
“Shortly, the Queensland Office of the Coordinator will release a draft Terms of Reference which will be open for public comment,” Chester said.
“This is another good opportunity for the community to have their say on the Inland Rail project.”
The minister also noted the second phase of market testing for delivery of the project was close to finalisation.
“After the market testing has concluded I’m keen to see construction commence sooner rather than later,” Chester said.
“We believe in the future of regional Australia, and the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project to deliver benefits today and 100 years from now.”