The business case for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC) has been released, with the Queensland Government moving to ensure the long-term future of rail freight to the Port of Townsville.
State Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said it was important for the economic development of Townsville the TEARC route was protected for future construction and that everything possible was done to bring the project forward.
“Building Queensland has recently completed a Detailed Business Case on the TEARC project which is being publicly released today,” Mr Bailey said.
“It found while freight line was strategically important to the future development of the port, current demand did not support construction of the line at this time.
“We therefore call on the Turnbull Government to redirect funding from the TEARC to other key projects Townsville needs now, consistent with the Townsville City Deal.
Mr Bailey said such investment would help bring forward demand for TEARC and make it a reality sooner.
“We also urge the Federal Government to join with us in committing funding to construction of intermodal rail facilities at the port of Townsville which would provide an immediate option for modal shift of product transported in half-height containers from road to rail.”
Mr Bailey said increased commodity demand, any major new trades, population growth in North Queensland, or changed land use could trigger the future need for TEARC.
“Until then it is important we protect the corridor for future construction,” he said.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said as a first step, the Federal Government will thoroughly review the business case, including seeking independent advice from Infrastructure Australia.
“We want to leave no stone unturned in determining if the TEARC project can be viable,” Mr McCormack said.
“Our commitment is to invest more than $250 million in Townsville under the Townsville City Deal, and we stand by that commitment.”
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the Port of Townsville was one of four priority ports in North Queensland and was vital to the movement of the state’s imports and exports.
“The Channel Widening Project is a fundamental part of the economic future of Townsville and North Queensland as well as the Townsville City Deal,” he said.
“Put simply, it means jobs for North Queensland.
“It’s by expanding capacity at the Port that we’ll be able to increase efficiency, grow freight volumes and in turn support demand and future need for the TEARC.”
To read the TEARC Business case, visit: http://buildingqueensland.qld.gov.au/business-case/townsville-eastern-access-rail-corridor/