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July 14th, 2018 by admin

Minister jerks inland rail builder back into gear

SLAP DOWN: Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester has been forced to direct inland rail builder ARTC reconsider its choice of potential inland rail routes. INFRASTRUCTURE and Transport Minister Darren Chester has been forced to jerk the government-owned corporationcharged with building Australia’s $10 billioninland rail project back into gear.
Nanjing Night Net

Despite both the minister and theAustralian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) promising “openness and transparency” over the process to build the Queensland section of the project, the afternoon devolved intonear farce after ARTC ruled out considering the existing rail corridor running through Warwick.

The embarrassing slap down followed an earlier agreement betweenfederal and state MPs and ARTC officials who had gathered for an emergency meeting in Warwick to address growing community concern over ARTC’s handling ofthe process.

ARTC’s proposed inland rail route.At that closed door meeting it is understood all of the participants –including ARTC officials –agreed that three routes would be considered, in part to address a perception that ARTC was failing to appropriately consult with affected communities.

Those options werea greenfield track from Inglewood to Toowoomba viaMillmerran,Inglewood to Toowoomba viaa greenfield track fromKarara, and using the existing rail corridor via Warwick. All would include consideration of the Brisbane WestWellcamp Airport.

Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester has been forced to direct inland rail builder ARTC to consider using existing rail corridor through Warwick.

No time frames were given to when a final decision onwhen a route would be selected or construction was likely to begin.

The promise of openness and transparency got off to a poor start.While MPs were keen for media attention in front of the assembled cameras, it appearedfor sometime there was no ARTC representative willing to speak to the issue.

When ATRC chief executive officer John Fullerton did front the media he made it clear only the Millmerran and Kararaoptions were on the table.

Member for Condamine, Pat Weir, Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester, Member for Southern Downs, Lawrence Springborg, Member for Groom, John McVeigh, and ATRC chief executive officer John Fullerton, in Warwick yesterday.

However, following heated conversations with MPs and a subsequentmeetingwith Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Tracy Dobie, an embarrassedminister subsequently directed ARTC to reassess its position.

Queensland Country Lifewas advised that ARTC would be issuing a media statement this evening stating that the existing rail corridor which runs from Inglewood to Warwick and onto Toowoomba would now be reconsidered.

That statement reads:“Warwick will be part of the ongoing consultation in coming months as we determine the final alignment. We did a detailed assessment of the options in the 2010 Alignment Study and we understand the importance of providing this detail to the community. Following a meeting today with the Minister and local MPs ARTC will work with the Southern Downs community to determine the route which will deliver the best outcome for QLD and Australia.” No ATRC spokesperson was attributed to the statement.

Today’s actions are certain to further erode community confidence in ARTC which haddoggedly maintainedthat the Queensland section of the inland rail be constructed across the agriculturally importantCondamine floodplain. Thatroute woulddepart therail corridor atInglewood, heading via Millmerran to Charlton, west of Toowoomba.

However,the ARTC’s determinationappears to be based on a2010 report that ignores the construction of theBrisbane WestWellcamp Airport near Toowoomba, which opened in 2014.

Since then a report compiled by consultancy firmSMEC Holdings in 2015 has been leaked,suggestingthere are two better,cheaper andlower-impact routes. They include using theexisting rail corridor from Inglewood to Karara or Thane to connectWellcamp Airport to Brisbane.

Southern Downs Regional Council said those plans would cripple communities on the existing rail network,maintaining the most logical and least disruptive route was one which uses the existing railcorridor.

ARTC has been previously slated for sale by the federal government, adding weight to the argument why a wholly owned trackis preferable in terms of value. ARTC already owns some 10,000km of track, including track on the proposed inland rail from Melbourne to North Star near Moree, in northern NSW.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.