Response to inland rail report: 'Let's get on with it'

POLITICAL leaders in Toowoomba have responded to a newly released report on the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project route by saying: "Let's get on with it".

Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg this week tabled the report which was published last year but never made public, according to the MP.

The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation's (SMEC) report revealed a route passing through Leyburn and Karara would cost $100 million less than the proposed corridor via Millmerran.

It comes after public battles between political leaders in Toowoomba and Warwick over the route of the $10 billion project.

Recently landholders in Millmerran raised concerns about the proposed route, citing flooding and land-use problems.

The  Australian Rail Track Corporation, which is handling the route, came to the conclusion that a path through Millmerran was the best option after conducting various studies.

Toowoomba South MP David Janetzki said while every option needed to be on the table, he just wanted the project up and running as soon as possible.

He echoed concerns raised by earlier by $235 million Toowoomba rail hub project Interlink SQ that ongoing debate over the route could imperil the project, which many agree is vital for the economy.

Mr Janetzki said he was sick of talking about it.

"The more we talk about it, the more likely that funding will be diverted elsewhere," he said.

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio said it was "time to get on with the project".

A spokeswoman for the Millmerran Commerce and Progress said the organisation preferred the Millmerran route because of the economic benefits it would bring to the region.

It is yet to formally discuss the newly released report.

A spokesman for ARTC said in a statement that the preferred alignment (Inglewood to Gowrie) in the 2010 Alignment Study was identified because it allows for shorter journey time, reduced costs and enables greater freight volumes.

"It's imperative that inland rail meets the freight industry's service level requirements as well as balancing construction costs, environmental and social considerations.

"ARTC engaged consultants to undertake a further analysis of the route identified in the SMEC report, and the outcome of that analysis was that there wasn't a compelling case for the alternative route.

There will be an extensive and ongoing consultation process before a final decision on the Inland Rail corridor is made as part of the environmental and planning process.

"ARTC will have an open discussion with the landholders about the findings from both reports.

"We have been talking with landowners in this area for a number of months and we look forward to further discussions, specifically on this matter in the coming weeks."



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