Warwick still on cards for rail route
THE Federal Government has confirmed its commitment to the Melbourne-to-Brisbane inland rail with a funding allocation of $8.4billion in last Tuesday's budget.
The 1700km freight corridor snakes through Toowoomba, Parkes and Albury, and with links to other state capital cities via the existing Australian Rail Track Corporation network.
Mayor Tracy Dobie said Southern Downs Regional Council continued to push for the line to pass through Warwick.
"The Federal Government has reinforced their determination to bring this project to life,” Cr Dobie said.
"The Yelarbon to Gowrie Project Reference Group have delivered their report to the transport minister and (the government) will now be looking at whether the alignment will come through Warwick or through Millmerran or other possible routes.
"Warwick had been identified as the most expensive but the community here wants the route to come through Warwick.
"There is also an existing link and without the inland rail there is no reason for the State Government to maintain that rail link.”
Work on the so-called Steel Mississippi, which has long been a National Party priority, could begin this financial year.
It would involve about 500km of new line and upgrades to 1200km of existing rail corridors which the government claims would generate up to 16,000 jobs.
Cr Dobie said that despite the confirmation of funding, it was no clearer whether the route would run close to the Rose City.
"It will still take a couple of months for the decision to be made,” she said.
"We're still raising the issue with state and federal politicians and we'll continue to do that as it is a hugely important project for our region.
"The next thing to consider is whether anything comes of the State Government selling the south west corridor to the Federal Government so they get the money for other infrastructure projects.”
Queensland Farmers' Federation president Stuart Armitage said concerns about damage to prime agricultural land needed to be addressed as the project pushed forward.
"QFF welcomes the government's once-in-a-100-year project funding for the $8.4billion commitment to start the build,” Mr Armitage said.
"QFF welcome the inland rail project as it will deliver sector- wide benefits, but some concerns about the Queensland corridor, namely the impact on prime agricultural land and key floodplains, are yet to be resolved.
"It is essential with a project of such significance and importance that farmers and regional communities concerns are heard and where possible accommodated.”