Revitalised rail freight network to benefit regional towns
REGIONAL towns and cities across Queensland will start to see the economic and social benefits from a renewed push to revitalise the state's rail freight network.
The Moving Freight Strategy released on Thursday outlines six key areas aimed at ensuring Queensland's future economic growth will be built on the ability to move freight efficiently to support the resources, agriculture, construction and tourism sectors.
A key component of the strategy will see greater investment and expansion of the state's rail network to better cope with increasing demands over the coming decade.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said on Thursday the state's vision for rail was to be receptive and responsive to changing customer and industry needs as well as growing economic activity.
"Actions identified to get more freight on to rail and reduce road congestion include preserving train paths on regional rail lines for agricultural freight and undertaking a pre-feasibility study for a new rail freight terminal on the north side of Brisbane," he said.
"We have already announced up to $50 million on additional passing loops and $17 million to lower train tunnels enabling the agricultural industry to use larger containers through the Toowoomba Range and Lockyer Valley.
"We have also increased cattle services from Winton to Brisbane and Cloncurry to Brisbane.
"If we do not put a clear plan in place our network will grind to a halt, unable to cope with the increase in demand."
Mr Emerson said freight volumes in Queensland are expected to increase from 871 million tonnes currently to about 1741 million tonnes by 2026.
"In order to better support the road freight network we are looking at reducing red tape for heavy freight vehicle permits and investigating upgrades to key freight routes on the Flinders, Barkly, Warrego, Capricorn, Peak Downs and Gregory highways," he said.
"Queensland's freight network is critical to our economy and plays a valuable part in each of the four pillars of tourism, agriculture, resources and construction."
The state's freight network is made up of 13,600km of road, 9550km of rail line, 15 trading ports, three international airports as well as multiple domestic airports and freight terminals.