Inland Rail funding request slammed as ‘blackmail’
A TWO-day Inland Rail conference in Toowoomba this week failed to give definite answers about the exact route, compensation packages, and federal funding.
But southeast residents living along the proposed line said the lack of certainty around the route was unlikely to change the construction deadline of 2025.
Hillcrest resident Stan Corbett said the 50,000 residents along the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge rail corridor would lobby the next Co-ordinator General, after Barry Broe stepped down on Thursday.
Mr Corbett, who lives near the track, said a State Government request to Canberra for an extra $857 million for the project was "a thinly veiled blackmail attempt".
He said the state needed federal money to complete Cross River Rail and other projects after $3 billion in election promises dried up when Labor lost the May federal election.
"The state is saying that unless the federal government provides those funds, Queensland will not sign an agreement to allow the track to proceed," Mr Corbett said.
"It's a red herring to ask the Federal Government for money to build a passenger rail from Salisbury to Beaudesert to compensate for any increase in freight trains on the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge section.
"Inland Rail will be using an existing rail line so there is absolutely no connection with the passenger rail.
"The State Government does not want to own up to the sad fact that the enlarged corridor will result in multiple home and land resumptions.
"The only real solution to our concerns with Inland Rail is for it to terminate at Dalby and Toowoomba and not come to Brisbane."
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said any deal with Canberra over Inland Rail would address residents' concerns.
Mr Bailey also said other projects across the state should benefit from the Inland Rail deal.
"We're having collaborative discussions with the federal government on Inland Rail, and we want to make sure other rail and road projects in Queensland are not neglected," Mr Bailey said.
"Until improvements to the rail connection to the port can be resolved, and the passenger rail upgrade built, coal trains will need to continue using the existing West Moreton Rail System and freight container trains between Kagaru and Acacia Ridge will be limited to single stack."
One of the decisions made at the Toowoomba conference was to launch an Inland Rail Skills Academy aimed at creating opportunities for communities along the track.