KAP drafting legislation to try to alter Inland Rail route
Rose City voice to join rail project
CP Rail investigating after train derails between Golden and Revelstoke
Inland rail builders promise community consultation
Price tag for $10b Melbourne to Brisbane rail project could be higher
Moree Plains Shire Council receives $300,000 in funding for freight and infrastructure funding
New business park part of Moree's plan for big rail role
Inland rail delayed by Canberra's indecision
Albury-Wodonga stop confirmed for inland rail project
Need to solve inland rail's 'missing link' says Port of Brisbane
The multi-billion-dollar Inland Rail project is being hailed as a saviour for both the freight industry and farmers, and it is strongly supported by Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack.
It may well be a saviour for the big freight forwarders such as Woolworths, Coles and Linfox. It was on their instruction, after all, that the Australian Rail Track Corporation drew a line on the map to connect Melbourne and Brisbane to establish a rail trip that would take less than 24 hours.
Easy. Job done. No comprehensive modelling or topographic, hydrological or socio-economic studies carried out – even while the preferred alignment of this freight line will cross floodplains and cut through, or heavily impact, about 300 farms on some of Australia’s most productive land.
Deputy PM Michael McCormack and Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan make an announcement regarding the Inland Rail in March this year.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
It will bypass struggling country towns and leave them for dead, whereas upgrades of the existing line would allow them to share the economic benefits.
Prime farming land, which feeds the nation, will be destroyed. The landowners, some of whom have been on their farms for generations, and who are coping with the worst drought many have experienced, will be collateral damage.
The line, bearing kilometres-long trains with their double-stacked containers, will split properties in half. Some farms will be finished. Others will struggle to move stock and equipment from one side of the line to the other. Some properties could become worthless.
In Senate estimates, Labor Senator Glenn Sterle asked whether the ARTC had considered other alignments that would not impact so heavily on farms but instead pass closer to towns to benefit communities – and in so doing, add as little as 24 minutes to the trip between Melbourne and Brisbane. ARTC CEO John Fullerton admitted these options had not been considered – because industry insisted it had to be less than 24 hours.
ARTC maintains keeping the existing lines would be “significantly more expensive”, but is unable to put a figure on this. It is difficult to understand how it reaches this conclusion when it has no idea how much compensation it will have to pay for the preferred route, or how many crossings, bridges or fences it will need to build. In fact, it doesn’t know precisely where the track will be laid.
I can understand ARTC doing the bidding of big industry, but this “nation-building” project was put to the government for its approval. One might have expected it to more carefully scrutinise the huge expenditure of taxpayers’ money.
You might think it reasonable to ask the people whose land and lives are affected what they think. Sadly, we haven't been asked. You’d think the National Party MPs, who profess to look after country people, might have arranged meetings in their electorates to gauge support for the project. Nup.
Carry on chaps.
But there are lot of very angry people, from southern NSW, through the central west and into Queensland, who do not take kindly to being ignored. And on Thursday, Mr McCormack will get his chance to hear their concerns. After putting us off for five months, he will travel to Gilgandra to meet opponents of the proposed route.
The NSW Farmers Association, which has been in dialogue with ARTC for months, has uncovered the fact that no socio-economic analysis has been factored in as a component for the business case. That should be reason enough to slow down and take a harder look.
McCormack may take some convincing. His Nationals colleague Mark Coulton is the federal MP for the NSW seat of Parkes, which takes in a large area of the disputed alignment. Coulton has been lobbied forcefully to urge the government to explore other options. He remains focused on getting the line under way as soon as possible.
What is the unholy rush? McCormack must direct ARTC to re-assess its route and consider the best line for all involved, not only corporate giants.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
About this website
Railpage version 3.10.0.0037
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is © 2003-2019 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.