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Queensland puts Surat Basin Railway on front burner

<p>Major players in Queensland’s Surat Basin Railway have two years to get it up and running or lose their exclusive access to the project, a spokesman for deputy premier and minister for infrastructure Anna Bligh has told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> .</p> <p>The formal signing of a joint venture yesterday (Monday, December 4) between Australian Transport and Energy Corridor (Dawson Valley Railway) Pty Ltd (Atec), Industry Funds Management (IFM), Queensland Rail, Xstrata Coal and Anglo Coal for the initiative worth more than $1bn, was met by state government granting a conditional exclusive mandate to the consortium. </p> <p>&#8220No-one else can have a crack at it while they’ve got it,&#8221 the spokesman said of the project that was unveiled in July and aimed at opening up the coal rich Surat Basin with a new 207-km rail line from Wandoan to Banana, allowing access to the port of Gladstone.</p> <p>&#8220One of the five players is Queensland Rail, so we are a shareholder in that sense already.</p> <p>&#8220And, obviously, the government wants a commercial return.</p> <p>&#8220These people now have two years to come back to us with a `we can do this &#8211 we’ll get it up an running’.&#8221</p> <p>Queensland premier Peter Beattie was very bullish about the project, which is being touted as the first part of an inland rail link between Melbourne and Gladstone.</p> <p>"This will lead to the single biggest economic injection ever for the Darling Downs and the southwest [of Queensland&#93," Mr Beattie said. </p> <p>"This exclusive mandate will give both the government and the consortium benefits to progress the new rail line &#8211 also known as the Southern Missing Link.</p> <p>"In return, the consortium will have exclusivity to thoroughly investigate developing the link to join the Moura rail system at Wandoan." </p> <br />