Transport Minister Scott Emerson.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson.

Draft plan for moving freight may include rail link

TAKING freight containers off the roads and onto a Brisbane-Toowoomba rail link, redeveloping regional rail terminals and making certain rail lines coal-free will form the Queensland Government's approach to handling freight over the next decade.

The State Government will today release its draft Moving Freight strategy, a blueprint for how the state will handle freight capacity over 10 years.

The strategy identifies 38 actions with regional rail networks prominent on the priority list.

The draft plan also outlines the pressures road and rail networks will face with major population boom forecasts in regional centres.

Ipswich's population is forecasted to grow by 101% by 2021, while the resource areas of Mackay and Toowoomba will expand by 46% and 32% respectively.

Freight volumes across the state are forecasted to simultaneously grow by 76% by 2021.

In a bid to ease heavy vehicle traffic on the Port of Brisbane to Darling Downs route - and in the face of doubling port activity - Transport and Main Roads is also looking at using rail to transport containers instead of trucks.

Some rail lines in south east Queensland, including the North Coast and Western Rail Lines, are shared between freight and passenger trains.

The strategy outlines segregating passenger and freight rail networks to combat service conflicts.

The strategy also flags consolidating existing rail terminals in regional centres such as Rockhampton and Mackay.

"Existing terminals in key population centres such as Brisbane, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns are generally duplicated, constrained by adjacent land uses, and support single-user operations," the Moving Freight strategy stated.

"Ideally, these terminals could be redeveloped and consolidated in a more complementary and coordinated manner consistent with rail system and industry needs."

Two of the priorities to be actioned in the next two years include a focus on eventually developing the North Coast Line - including the need for longer trains and a rail freight terminal - and the Western Rail System.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said the draft Moving Freight strategy would support the resources, agriculture, construction and tourism sectors.

"This strategy outlines short, medium and long term actions to move freight onto rail and improve the efficiency of the road freight," Mr Emerson said.

"We've received input from regional and rural industries to develop this strategy and I look forward to feedback over the coming months."

The strategy is available at http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au and open for feedback.



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