More time needed to respond to freight recommendations: Emerson

By: Brad Gardner

Queensland transport minister wants three more months to respond to a report on regional rail freight.

More time needed to respond to freight recommendations: Emerson
Queensland transport minister Scott Emerson.


The Queensland Government’s formal response to recommendations on how to fix the state’s ailing regional rail freight network will be pushed back to the end of 2014.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson has requested a three month extension to respond to the 45 recommendations contained in the Rail freight use by the agricultural and livestock industries report.

The Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee examined the challenges in moving agricultural and livestock products by rail and released its recommendations in June.

The recommendations are designed to bring the regional rail network up to a level that makes it the preferred mode for transporting industrial, mining and agricultural freight across Queensland.

Among its findings, the committee urged the Government to establish a new freight authority to provide advice, an independent taskforce to develop a statewide rail infrastructure plan and for Queensland Rail to consider resuming freight services until alternative operators were able to take over.

The committee also wants the Government to preserve train paths, continue work on reforming heavy vehicle charges and work with the Federal Government on building an inland rail route.

Emerson says work is already underway on these three issues, but more time is needed to address the other recommendations.

"Due to the breadth and nature of the remaining recommendations, detailed examination and consultation with stakeholders is necessary to provide a considered response to the [Legislative] Assembly," he says in a letter to the Queensland Parliament.

"As such, I am requesting a three month extension to the timeframe to prepare and present a Whole-of-Government agreed final response to the Report. The final response will be presented to the Assembly by 16 December 2014 as required by legislation."

In the report, Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Howard Hobbs emphasises the need for the Queensland Government to act.

"Doing nothing is not an option. The current freight system will not cope with the forecast demand and roads will quickly reach capacity," Hobbs writes.

"The Committee has heard that the rail service to the agricultural sector is currently in a shambles; infrastructure is out-dated and inefficient; there is limited access to train paths; serious inefficiencies in the supply chain; and the above rail service is inefficient, unreliable and inflexible."

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