Connecting the national inland rail project to the Port of Gladstone has been back on the agenda in Canberra.
Connecting the national inland rail project to the Port of Gladstone has been back on the agenda in Canberra.

‘Bloody oath’: Inland rail to Gladstone still in the mix

CONNECTING the national inland rail project to Gladstone has been back on the agenda in the corridors of Canberra.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd has had meetings about the project since federal parliament returned for 2020.

Asked whether connecting to the Gladstone Port was still a distinct possibility, Mr O'Dowd was emphatic.

"Bloody oath it is. Gladstone ticks a lot of boxes."

He said he had already convinced some of his colleagues that bringing the national rail-freight project to the city was the way to go.

A feasibility study into the Gladstone option was undertaken two years ago but the Federal Government is yet to make the findings public.

Mr O'Dowd said the study being made public wasn't the issue as it gave Gladstone the thumbs down.

But Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher wants to see it.

"Governments play all sorts of funny tricks when it comes to these types of things. If it's that transparent they should … let Gladstone see what it's all about," he said.

Under the current project design, freight will travel from Melbourne to Brisbane via Wagga Wagga, Parkes, Moree and Toowoomba

Mr O'Dowd and Mr Butcher believed the cost and logistic challenges involved with connecting to Brisbane were valid reasons to consider Gladstone as an option.

"Some of the figures that I've seen to bring it here actually saves money, and … we're talking billions of dollars to bring it to Gladstone compared to Brisbane," Mr Butcher said.

In January, Gladstone Regional Council made a submission to the senate inquiry into the Inland Rail Project.

Mayor Matt Burnett said the inland rail extension to the Port of Gladstone was a strategic priority for the council.

"Our port has the capacity to grow to more than 300 million tonnes per annum, which is more than double the import and export tonnage currently.

"This rail line would open further export opportunities for Central Queensland as a whole," Cr Burnett said.

According to the submission, the connection from Toowoomba to Brisbane is estimated to cost $6.7 billion.

Costs from Toowoomba to Gladstone are projected at $1.2 billion-$2.7 billion.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation website states the majority of freight forecast to be transported on inland rail is for domestic markets, which is why connections to capital cities are preferred.