Inland Rail route deviation will be counterproductive, ALC says

Kilgariff backs original plan, says InterLinkSQ and investors will bear the brunt of eleventh hour changes

Inland Rail route deviation will be counterproductive, ALC says
Kilgariff urges industry and politicians to respect investment decisions agreed upon in 2010.


Altering the Inland Rail route will challenge the economic benefits promised by the project, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has warned.

There have been speculations that the rail route could potentially be deviated from the path that was originally agreed upon in 2010.

Earlier this week, federal MP for Groom John McVeigh had stated that the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, which materialised after the Inland Rail project was finalised, more than justified the "consideration of an alteration" to the rail route.

McVeigh argues that connecting the Inland Rail with the Wellcamp airport will add to the economic benefits of the Melbourne to Brisbane rail link and also encourage private investment.

Intermodal transport and logistics estate InterLinkSQ has blamed Toowoomba businessman John Wagner for fanning the issue of route change consideration for personal benefits.

The logistic council has come out in support of InterLinkSQ’s under-construction intermodal facility, which is along the originally agreed path of the rail project.

ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says businesses have made investment decisions about freight infrastructure based on the original route and any change in the plan will create uncertainty within the industry and end up delaying the project.

He is urging the industry and politicians to respect investment decisions that were agreed upon in 2010.

"To alter the planned route now would retrospectively penalise those investors, undermine the business case and risk yet more delay to a project that has already been decades in development," Kilgariff says.

"ALC has consistently said that more effective long-term planning is essential to improving the efficiency of our supply chains and freight networks.

"The current Inland Rail route has been planned for years, and to deviate from it now would violate every principle of good planning and maintaining investor confidence.

"It’s important to remember that Inland Rail is about establishing a port-to-port freight rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane, with a journey time of less than 24 hours – some 10 hours faster than the current rail route through Sydney."

Kilgariff agrees with InterLinkSQ chief executive Michelle Reynolds in his opposition to the idea of including high-speed passenger trains along the route.

"We can’t afford to lose sight of that unambiguous objective by beginning to debate passenger rail links to regional airports," Kilgariff says.

"Frankly, that is not what Inland Rail is about."                                      

Kilgariff endorses federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester's statement that the Inland Rail project will deliver long-term benefits for Australia.

"The Inland Rail project has been debated and discussed for decades.

"The Government’s decision to commit $8.4 billion to support its construction in the Federal Budget was a crucially important moment for Australia’s freight logistics sector.

"The last thing our industry and the national economy can afford is further delay to the Inland Rail project because of speculative discussions about altering the route or incorporating passenger services."

"Such delays will do nothing to deliver the clear economic benefits of Inland Rail, and will simply undermine investor and industry confidence."

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