Maritime & Transport / Rail

Is Queensland’s freight rail set to go national?

Heavy Haul Rail Australia 2013-1Queensland could be incorporated into the national rail network, a move that may result in more railway engineering investment in the state.

The Newman government is in talks with the federal government to see whether such a development would benefit Queensland rail industry.

The Commonwealth’s Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) now manages 8,500 km of national networks after being established in 1997. Part of its portfolio includes a 94 km section of Queensland track between the NSW border and Acacia Ridge, which it took on in 2010.

Representatives from the organisation met with deputy prime minister Warren Truss and Queensland transport and main roads minister Scott Emerson to discuss further possibilities.

Mr Truss said: “Over the last 15 years, we have seen the ARTC deliver improvements for freight networks across Australia by investing in infrastructure and staff, in return for management of track access.

“Jointly with the Queensland government we have asked ARTC to investigate the viability of this proposition and carefully weigh up the pros and cons of such a move in Queensland.”

According to the deputy prime minister, it is important to have all the facts laid out as there are a number of issues to consider before finalising a deal.
Rail Industry Fundamentals
Mr Emerson said Queensland Rail staff would begin working with ARTC officers this week. Later this year, the teams are expected to report back to state and federal governments with their conclusions.

The news comes after the Queensland government recently unveiled its Moving Freight strategy, which predicted 89 per cent growth in freight task over the next 12 years. This could amount to as much as 1,741 tonnes by 2026.

“For almost 150 years, Queensland’s rail freight network has operated separately from the rest of Australia, and as a result, has missed out on a share of investments provided for the national rail freight network in other states,” Mr Emerson explained.

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