Inland Rail push gathers steam
SUPPORTERS of connecting the Inland Rail project to the Port of Gladstone are being rallied and there are calls for the Queensland and Federal governments to back the plan.
Regional Development Australia Central and Western Queensland is co-ordinating a large group of stakeholders who see big benefits in the project being extended to the city.
Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said the State Government had not formed a view on a preference between the ports of Brisbane or Gladstone but had an open mind.
RDACWQ director Tony Gambling wants to see more advocacy from both levels of government.
He said the link to Gladstone already had the support of regional councils in CQ as well as State Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher and Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd.
"We strongly believe that the Inland Rail should be linked to the Port of Gladstone as well as the Port of Brisbane," Mr Gambling said.
He wants to see the Gladstone link built while the challenges of connecting to Brisbane are tackled.
"It is highly unlikely that the Port of Brisbane link can be built for the estimated cost of $3 billion, when you consider the Cross River Rail link is costing close to $6 billion for a much shorter project for much shorter trains," he said.
He said one of the compelling reasons to connect to the Port of Gladstone was that it is a publicly owned asset.
"If and when Inland Rail goes to the Port of Brisbane, it will be with taxpayers' money but the profits will only accrue to the Port's private owners," he said.
"If some of that same taxpayers' money is spent building Inland Rail to Toowoomba then to the Port of Gladstone, the benefits that flow will be for the current and future generations of Queenslanders."
Mr Gambling said it also made financial sense for ship operators and exporters operating in markets to the north of Australia, and the benefits for Queensland would be achieved many years earlier than the current proposal.
Federal Minister for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack was contacted for comment.