Transport ministers push ARTC’s Queensland study

Truss and Emerson see positives for state and national freight from federal involvement in state network

Transport ministers push ARTC’s Queensland study
Queensland’s rail network is to be probed

Federal Government’s Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will examine incorporating Queensland into the national rail network but Federal Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss has left no doubt over his backing for the move on freight facilitation grounds.

And Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson highlighted the shortfall in Federal track expenditure in his state due to the ARTC’s absence there apart from a 94km section between the New South Wales border and Acacia Ridge, which was transferred to the ARTC in 2010.

Truss points to his government’s backing for the inland rail link between Queensland and Victoria as adding impetus to the need for the investigation while highlighting that only those lines within the state that are financially viable for the ARTC would be supported.

"By including a large proportion of the Queensland track it would enable more seamless movement of rail freight around the country, but it could also provide the benefit of ensuring that there is additional capital expenditure and upgrading of the network in the state of Queensland," Truss says.

"So this due diligence study is about to being. It will be a commercial study, and the board of the ARTC will then make an assessment about whether or not it wishes to come to the Federal Government and seek to expand its network to incorporate some or all of the tracks within Queensland, and also present a business plan about how that can work constructively for the rail system in Australia."

Truss also said that work on inland route was "likely" to start at the Queensland end.

Emerson underlines the huge increase in freight that the state would have to handle in the next decade, putting it variously at 70 and 80 per cent.

"Why are we interested in doing that?" he says.

"Well, over the last 10 years the ARTC has spent about $6b on rail across Australia, but very little of that, about one per cent, has been spent in Queensland.

"So, what we want to see is more investment in Queensland."

He adds that his government wants most of the projected increase to be on rail.

"But to do that we need a more efficient, more effective, more productive rail network," Emerson says.

"And that's why we're very pleased to have the Federal Government's ARTC come in and begin these investigations, these discussions about the management of our freight network, as has occurred in other states across Australia."

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