Calls to fast-track rail corridor investment to regions
THE head of Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise has called for a commitment from the incoming state government to improve rail access to the resources region.
TSBE executive chairman Shane Charles, writing in the Surat Basin News ahead of the state election on Saturday, said significant investment in existing rail infrastructure was needed.
"It's imperative that regardless of who takes the helm that the party focus on fast-tracking private investment into improving and expanding existing freight and infrastructure corridors throughout the resource-rich Surat Basin," Mr Charles said.
"Years of limited investment in rail infrastructure, plus an increase in freight volumes mean we urgently need significant investment in the freight railways for minerals, agriculture and commodity exporters in the region.
"TSBE works with all sides of politics and we're looking forward to getting on with the job of building the region and linking business with opportunity.
"We need a firm commitment from the state to work with private enterprise to fast-track investment into the region's rail corridors to enhance the export capacity of the network."
Mr Charles said projects such as the ATEC Rail Group's proposed expansion of the freight rail corridor west of Toowoomba should be a priority for the next state government.
ARG has already "invested significantly" in the project, Mr Charles said, with more than $250 million in the pipeline to make it a success.
"ARG's market led proposal offers an improved transport solution for minerals, agriculture and commodity exporters in the basin by upgrading rail infrastructure, improving existing freight bottlenecks, and getting freight off our roads and onto rail," Mr Charles said.
"These types of projects, where proponents have already shown strength of their support of this region through significant investment, should be at the top of the 'to-do' list for our government.
"I encourage the Queensland government to hasten investment discussions with private investors so that infrastructure investment in freight corridors starts happening, and local mining, agriculture and commodity exporters can future-proof their operations, and most importantly, provide jobs for the region."