Why Inland Rail build could be more than year away
IF YOU'RE hoping for construction on the Inland Rail through the Darling Downs soon, don't hold your breath.
That's the assessment of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, which has been given $8.4 billion in the Federal Budget to complete the project.
ARTC's executive general manager Peter Winder, who appeared at the construction start for private freight hub InterlinkSQ yesterday, said there remained plenty of steps before construction could begin.
"We need to do two things - first of all, there is an independent review and the minister needs to make a decision on the route (from border to Gowrie), and then before you can start construction you have to go through the full environmental impact statement process," he said.
"That's the statutory process in Queensland, because they are managed by the State Coordinator-General, and that process takes about 12 months.
"For example, east of here, those environmental impact statements went on public display at the weekend.
"That runs for a month, and then the Coordinator-General considers it for a month, then he issues the full terms of reference and all the detailed designs go before the Government."
Along with the multi-year funding for the Inland Rail, the Government will also engage the private sector in a Public Private Partnership to build tunnels through the Toowoomba Range.
Despite the eastern side of the Queensland route being determined, Mr Winder said the process would take time.
"Now that that option has been chosen for that section down the hill, they'll now go through a full scoping exercise and then go through some market testing tender process to get proposals for how they'll do it," he said.
"It will more likely, given we're already in May, be happening in 2018-19."
Groom MP John McVeigh admitted he thought it was unlikely the Darling Downs would see any construction by 2017-18.
"We want to see it as soon as possible (but) the immediate construction will most likely start in NSW - the Prime Minister and Treasurer have indicated that," he said.
"I have advocated that work needs to be done on the Toowoomba Range.
"There's a bit to finalise in regards to routes, so I'd agree that immediate construction is very unlikely."
Mr McVeigh said the private sector would be given a chance to fill in the funding gaps left by the Federal Government.