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A WIN for the advocacy of ALP branch members and the people of Ipswich.
That is how Blair MP Shayne Neumann has described the upshot of a motion carried at the ALP's State Conference that "Labor will complete the extension of the Springfield to Ipswich line and provide appropriate infrastructure to support the line's functionality".
This extension, via Redbank Plains and Ripley, has been a hot political topic at ALP branch meetings in Ipswich and in the wider community for years.
The growth at Redbank Plains and Ripley area is real and happening now. In the future the population of the greater Ripley suburbs will be 120,000, city planning boss Cr Andrew Antoniolli said this week.
Already commuters are driving from Redbank Plains and nearby suburbs to park at Springfield Central station, clogging the roads and putting a strain on car park spaces.
Mr Neumann, a delegate to the state conference, said local branch members could be "very proud" they had convinced the Palaszczuk Government to commit to the extension.
Public transport advocate Robert Dow has also welcomed the news while adding that the extension to Redbank Plains should be done in the next term in office, and not be dependent on Cross River Rail.
Mr Neumann said the state conference was "a victory for local Labor Party branch members in Ipswich who have really pushed this issue of the rail extension really hard".
"The growth areas in Ipswich are Springfield, Redbank Plains and Ripley, so Redbank Plains and Ripley will be critical railway stops," he said.
"I get the enrolment figures and in my electorate of Blair there has been 1300 new enrollees since December and most of that has been in Ripley, Springfield and Redbank Plains."
Mr Neumann said that, asides from the obvious benefit to commuters, the completed extension to railway to Springfield Central had already been "a boon for economic development, infrastructure and jobs' in the region.
Mr Dow said the main thing to come out of the ALP's state conference commitment was the rail extension being firmly on the political agenda.
"We are absolutely delighted that there is a commitment of the rail extension from Redbank Plains and through to Ripley," he said.
"It capitalises on the existing infrastructure we have and we need to build on what we've got.
"The only thing I will say is that the extension of the line to Redbank Plains and Ripley is not dependent on Cross-River Rail, as they try to paint.
"We think the extension to Redbank Plains could be done very soon by the State and certainly in the next term in office."
Mr Dow earlier told the QT how he was pleased to see local politicians keeping the issue in the public eye.
He referred to Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller raising the matter in estimates hearings as one of those.
Former mayor Paul Pisasale was vocal about the need for the extension, as have been Councillors David Morrison and Cr Sheila Ireland.
"Paul Tully has also made mention of the need for it in his mayoral campaign and we are grateful that the Acting Mayor has kept the focus on this issue," Mr Dow said.
Mr Neumann said himself, Ms Miller, Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard, ALP candidate for Jordan Charis Mullen and Oxley MP Milton Dick had pushed hard to get the issue on the agenda at state conference.
"The rail extension has the support of the chambers of commerce in Springfield and Ipswich, the support of the Ipswich council and it is critical infrastructure," Mr Neumann said.
"It is vital that the Palaszczuk Government prioritise the extension, provide an updated business case and lobby the federal government.
"The motion (carried at the ALP conference) also spoke about supporting the functionality of the rail line so we also need an upgrade to the carpark facilities at Springfield Central, and I know Charis Mullen is pushing hard for that to be done."
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad was unequivocal about the commitment of the State Government to the rail extension to Redbank Plains and Ripley.
"We have consistently said we will build these vital connections and we will," Ms Trad said in light of the carried motion at the state conference.
Ms Trad said this would follow the construction of Cross River Rail which she described as "a catalyst for the whole south-east Queensland region".
"It will enable us to unclog the bottleneck, deliver extra services and commuters won't have to face delays if a possum causes an outage in the overhead lines," she said.
"The trains will keep running because we have a second rail crossing through the city."
This article first appeared on www.qt.com.au
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