Freight Rail

Townsville rail funding redirected, corridor to be preserved

Port of Townsville. Photo: Chris Mackey

The Federal Government will redirect funds originally intended for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor to other upgrades at the North Queensland port, but has allocated $5 million to preserve the corridor.

The Coalition on Tuesday said it would spend $75 million expanding the Port of Townsville, so it can host larger cargo and passenger ships.

Some of the money for the expansion is being redirected from the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor, which was recently deemed by the State Government as unviable.

Queensland in April asked the Federal Government to redirect the TEARC funds to other Townsville projects, saying demand would not justify the cost of the proposed rail link.

The 8.3-kilometre TEARC would link Cluden, on the North Coast Line, directly to the existing Eastern Access Corridor near the Port of Townsville.

In a joint statement on September 5, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy PM Michael McCormack granted the state’s request, and redirected the funding, ‘in part’ to the port expansion.

“The Government recognises the TEARC business case found the project is not viable at this time,” Morrison and McCormack’s joint statement stated.

“It is important our investments maximise the value for taxpayer dollars and deliver the best economic opportunities for Townsville on the ground.”

$5 million will still be set aside to ensure the TEARC corridor is protected from other developments.

“It is important the TEARC corridor is preserved for future opportunity so it remains part of an integrated infrastructure plan for the region,” the statement said.

“The Government will support work on corridor preservation, including necessary environmental assessments, with up to $5 million in funding.”