Mayor Calls for Minor Realignment of Inland Rail Plans

Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor, Graeme Scheu wants to see some changes around Inglewood to the proposed Inland Rail Route.

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He’s calling on Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister, the Hon. Darren Chester, to explore the possibility of aligning Inland Rail track through the forestry around Inglewood in an effort to save the segregation of 41 landholdings in the region.

Cr Scheu says there may be a real opportunity to continue the track alignment north through to the Toowoomba Region so that landholders in the Bringalilly area can be spared the same fate.

“It was all possible in NSW through the Pilliga, and I don’t see why any political party, State or Federal, would not want to preserve prime agricultural land and investigate the forestry option fully. It is simply common sense.’’

And the Mayor’s proposals have received strong support from a large group of affected land holders he met with this week.

At a public meeting this week, which included 61 affected land holders, approx. 90 % of the large crowd were in favour of Cr Scheu’s proposal when asked to declare support via a show of hands.

Last Thursday, the Mayor informed staff of Minister Chester’s office the Council’s thoughts on Inland Rail.

“Our council is extremely supportive of the nation building project. It will be a major benefit to producers on the South West Line, but it should not come at the expense of others when it can be avoided.”

He says the Goondiwindi Regional Council has five main points of concern:

1.    Feeder lines into the Inland rail: We believe the Inland Rail Corridor presents an ideal opportunity for both levels of Government, State & Federal, to work together, and instead of a combination of narrow and standard gauge line, the opportunity is now real to upgrade the feeder line from the join up point some 14 km east of Goondiwindi and upgrade the line all the way to Thallon. A standard gauge line would encourage competition on the corridor, something that is sadly missing, and with the vast tonnages on offer in the nearby NSW region, you will see many special trains operating into the Port of Brisbane. Sadly, there is an enormous amount of cross border freight heading south due to poor logistics on the Queensland side.

2.    The forestry option around Inglewood is imperative and should be explored immediately. Why it was not investigated originally is beyond me.

3.    Direct access into the Port of Brisbane is essential. It is pointless stopping this at Acacia Ridge. There must be a direct access to the Port.

4.    It was extremely pleasing for the first time in tonight’s presentation to see examples of elevated bridges and viaducts such as the Rockhampton and Kempsey overpasses. This has never been explained before. Obviously, this is the major concern for landholders over the Condamine Plains, and it is equally, if not more significant in relation to the Border Rivers, where the proposed corridor will traverse the junction of three river systems. World’s best practice and a Bridge over the whole floodplain is the only acceptable option. It is unfair to expect landholders to accept the project until designs are available. There is too much to lose.

5.    Obviously, when the Inland Rail is constructed, the Inglewood to Warwick line will become obsolete and with seven QR maintenance staff based at Inglewood, our Council is keen to ensure that ARTC maintain that presence in town. It may seem a small thing to some, but to lose seven jobs in a town of 800 will have a major bearing.”

“If everyone works together on this project, there will be major benefits to all concerned.”