Freight Rail, Passenger Rail

Queensland bags Brisbane port link business case, light rail funding in Inland Rail deal

The Queensland government has secured more federal money for light rail on the Gold Coast, and $20 million to fund business cases for a Port of Brisbane Connection and the Salisbury to Beaudesert rail line, as part of an Inland Rail deal with the federal government.

Queensland on November 20 became the last of the three states involved to sign up to the federal government’s Inland Rail project.

The state had been holding out, arguing it was not receiving its fair share of infrastructure funding, and would not sign up to Inland Rail until it was satisfied.

That all came to an end on Wednesday with a $1.9 billion road and rail agreement.

The deal includes $680 million in new funding and $650 million in accelerated funding from the federal government, along with $606 million from the state government.

It includes $157 million in additional federal funding for Stage 3A of the Gold Coast Light Rail project, which will extend the existing rail line from Broadbeach South to Burleigh Heads.

It also includes $20 million in business case funding – $10 million from the state, $10 million from the Commonwealth – for a dedicated freight rail connection to the Port of Brisbane for the Inland Rail line.

There’s also $20 million for a business case for the Salisbury to Beaudesert passenger rail link, which shares an alignment with the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge section of Inland Rail.

Both business cases will have $10 million in funding from both the state and federal governments, with money to flow from 2020/21.

The federal government has also committed $50 million in new funding to relocate Logalea Station closer to Logan Hospital, a project identified in the Queensland Rail Station Accessibility Upgrade Program.

It has also accelerated $90 million in funding for the North Coast Rail Line Upgrade between Beerburrum and Nambour.

Queensland’s transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said the agreement for new and accelerated funding justified the state’s holdout on signing up for Inland Rail.

“This is a massive win for Queensland,” Bailey said. “Inland Rail presents an opportunity to move more freight onto trains and take trucks off roads. That becomes more important as south east Queensland continues to grow.

“This deal also prioritises planning for the passenger rail services that will be needed to serve growing parts of south east Queensland, like the Salisbury to Beaudesert rail link.”

Federal infrastructure minister Michael McCormack and prime minister Scott Morrison said the agreement was a good result for all involved.

“The Inland Rail project is a critical investment for Queensland and is projected to create 7,200 construction jobs and a more than $7 billion boost to the state economy,” McCormack said.

“We’re also bringing forward funding and delivery for key projects to benefit not only road freight but improve safety for locals and tourists such as the Rockhampton and Mackay ring roads.”

“By bringing forward these important road projects we will drive jobs, boost the economy and make Queensland roads and highways safer, while reducing travel times so people can be with their families instead of being stuck in traffic,” Morrison added.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was “always best” when state and federal governments worked together.

“We have called for a better deal for Queensland and the Prime Minister has listened,” the premier said. “We’re getting projects off drawing boards to create more jobs in more industries and deliver the things that make people’s lives better.”

Australasian Railway Association CEO Danny Broad congratulated all parties for the Inland Rail deal.

“Getting the Queensland government on-board was critical for final planning, approvals and rail corridor preservation to get the project moving and create thousands of jobs,” Broad said.

“The 1,700km Inland Rail line will link Brisbane directly to Melbourne via Toowoomba, Moree, Parkes and Albury, allowing rail freight transportation along that corridor in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Double stacked trains will vastly improve the efficiency of rail freight, helping our industries get products to market more quickly, improving our supply chains and benefiting the Australian economy.

“Gold Coast Light Rail has proved to be tremendously successful and we anticipate more benefits to flow with its extension further south,” he added.

Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle praised both state and federal representatives for finally coming to terms on an Inland Rail deal. “Intergovernmental agreements for major infrastructure projects don’t happen overnight,” he said.