A QR National coal train travels through Gatton on the West Moreton Rail Line - the same route the the Inland Rail Project is expected to take.
A QR National coal train travels through Gatton on the West Moreton Rail Line - the same route the the Inland Rail Project is expected to take. Dominic Elsome

Council joins calls for inland rail extension to Gladstone

WHEN Glenn Churchill is settling down at a retirement village in Gladstone one day, he wants to be able to see the inland rail from Melbourne travelling into the Port City.

The councillor, at yesterday's Gladstone Regional Council meeting, declared his hopes for the $8.4billion national infrastructure project to be extended to Gladstone.

His motion was for the council to team up with others in Central Queensland to complete a business case into the benefits of connecting Gladstone to Melbourne via freight rail.

The motion was part of an endorsement for councillor Rick Hansen to attend a two-day inland rail conference in New South Wales, which starts today.

It is not the first time the extension to the Port City has been touted.

The results of a Federal Government $250,000 feasibility study into extending the Melbourne to Brisbane rail infrastructure are believed to be with the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, but they are yet to be publicly released.

Cr Churchill said while the council was endorsing Cr Hansen's trip, it should also start a business case and write letters to State and Federal Government leaders and Opposition leaders for support.

"We need to have a strong voice in Canberra," he said.

Glenn Churchill at the Filipino-Australian Community Integration Organisation (FACIO) at their 120th Anniversary of Independence celebration, held at Gladstone PCYC.
Glenn Churchill at the Filipino-Australian Community Integration Organisation (FACIO) at their 120th Anniversary of Independence celebration, held at Gladstone PCYC. Matt Taylor GLA300618PCYC

His comments came days before the pre-selection process for the next Liberal National Party candidate for Flynn begins, where he is believed to be the only challenger for incumbent member Ken O'Dowd.

The result is expected to be known by Sunday.

Cr Churchill received some raised eyebrows and smiles from other councillors when he said the project would benefit the entire Flynn electorate.

Gladstone Ports Corporation also supports an extension of the inland rail, with the chief executive publicly saying it was a "fantastic idea" that would benefit the broader Central Queensland region.

Chief executive Peter O'Sullivan has previously told The Observer connecting Melbourne to Gladstone would benefit international markets too, making exporting to Asia cheaper and faster via Gladstone.

Deputy Mayor Chris Trevor pointed to Glencore's major mining lease at Wandoan as another reason for Gladstone to be connected to the southern cities.

"If coal deposits in Wandoan proceed, it'll make the Bowen Basin look like a blimp on the radar," Cr Trevor said.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the proposal of extending the inland rail from Gowrie Junction to Central Queensland was an "enormous" project and had been in talks for many years.



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