Port study feeds into Inland Rail planning

Posted September 15, 2014

The Australian Rail Track Corporation will use a pre-feasibility study undertaken by the Port of Brisbane to assist in the creation of a 1700km dedicated rail freight corridor from Melbourne to the port.

The $3 million study was undertaken over the past three years and offers options for a $5 billion freight corridor from south-western Queensland to the Port of Brisbane.

The ARTC is tasked by the Federal Government with overseeing the implementation of the overall Inland Rail project, which has a price tag in the region of $8 billion.

Port of Brisbane Pty Limited (PBPL) and ARTC have signed a Deed of Co-operation to assist in the realisation of the port connection as part of the 10-year Inland Rail project.

PBPL general manager of trade services Peter Keyte said the port favoured work to start on the Queensland end of the 1700km rail link.

Mr Keyte said the conceptual study offered a number of options but the port favoured upgrading the current rail link from Miles via the proposed range railway tunnel crossing near Toowoomba to link up with the Southern Rail Freight Bypass.

This would pass near Ipswich and link up with the existing rail network near Beaudesert, close to Brisbane.

The ARTC is considering all potential options, and is expected to make its recommendations to the Inland Rail Implementation Group by November.

The study has estimated the Miles to Toowoomba rail upgrade at $500 million and the new southern by-pass at a similar amount.

One of the major drawbacks of the Miles-to-the-range-crossing railway is the low axle weight limit of 15.75 tonnes.

Mr Keyte said the proposed upgrade would lift the axle weight rate to 30 tonnes, allowing freight trains to carry double-stacked containers.

“We propose that the project be completed as a phased development with the southern freight corridor the first section to be completed,” he said.

“The study has indicated that the bypass could be completed in two years from approval.”

Mr Keyte said either the final link to the port from Acacia Ridge or the range tunnel crossing could follow.

PBPL’s favoured option is for more than 80 per cent of the final link to the port to be underground, using a variety of cut and cover methods to complete the project. However this is dependent upon the final corridor recommendations to be determined by the ARTC study.

The Federal Government has committed $300 million to finalising planning, engineering design, environmental assessments, and to starting construction on the Inland Rail.

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