The Inland Rail project continues to advance, with ecological surveys beginning on the project in Queensland. Field studies for the Environmental Impact Statements for the Gowrie to Kagaru sections of Inland Rail in Queensland have begUn.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the ecology surveys for the Inland Rail sections from Gowrie to Kagaru would see the collection of spring and summer seasonal data about the flora and fauna of the area.
“With the Inland Rail progressing, it is important to get these ecological surveys underway to inform the design and broader environmental assessment of this Inland Rail section,” Mr Chester said.
“The field studies and investigations will help identify and understand animal and plant species in the area including their habitats.”
The Gowrie to Kagaru sections are said to be the most technically complex, requiring major tunnelling through the Toowoomba ranges.
Queensland stands to benefit from the Inland Rail, with more than 50 per cent of the construction cost to be spent in the state.
Support is mutual
Shadow Assistant Minister For Infrastructure Pat Conroy MP talked at length about the Inland Rail in a recent speech.
“We were the first ever national government to commit to building the 1,700 km Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria and the NSW central west.
“In particular, we invested $600 million upgrading existing parts of the rail network that will form part of the line. And in the 2013 Budget, we allocated $300 million to complete the detailed planning and get the project under way.
“In Australia freight rail carries half of our domestic freight, up from 36 per cent in 2000. In 2013/14 freight rail carried 1.3 billion tonnes of freight and contributed $5.1 billion to the Australian economy. 98 per cent was bulk freight with the remaining 2 per cent intermodal or containerised freight.
“By 2040, rail freight is expected to increase above its 2010 level by 130 per cent mainly driven by mineral exports.”
The domestic freight task has grown by 50 per cent in the decade to 2016 and is forecast to grow by another 26 per cent by 2026. By 2050 almost 12 million tonnes of freight is expected to move between Melbourne and Brisbane each year – more than twice the current levels.
“This massive growth requires a Federal Government committed to supporting infrastructure investment,” Mr Conroy said.