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QUEENSLAND'S Deputy Premier has given a vague timeline on when upgrades to rail tunnels on the Toowoomba Range will take place.
Answering questions from the floor at the Local Government Association of Queensland's 119th annual conference, Jackie Trad said her department was working through logistical issues.
She said the government would start the project before an aging councillor retired.
Balonne Shire Mayor Donna Stewart questioned the Deputy Premier on whether the government had funded a proposal to lower the floors of tunnels which take freight down the Toowoomba Range.
Cr Stewart said farmers in south-western Queensland wanted to export more food but needed better freight efficiencies.
"In particular through the south western line... there is a big issue with regards to container heights," she said.
"They are (the containers) going to increase in height and they will not get down the Range with the current height of the tunnels.
"I was wondering... when we might see that work commence?" she asked.
International shipping companies are transitioning from using 8'6" containers to new 9'6" containers.
Cr Stewart was echoing comments by Interlink SQ chief executive officer Michelle Reynolds who last week called for the government to fund the tunnel upgrades.
Interlink SQ is in the process of building a $235 million rail transfer station in the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub.
Ms Trad confirmed the Queensland Government had allocated money in the budget for the upgrade project.
"It won't be long before we can engage with you seriously about the projected work plan."
She said the government was committed to increasing the food and fibre target in Queensland.
"We know that freight is a significant part of that," she said.
Ms Trad said the government had concessional arrangements in place which provided subsidies for freight and livestock rail transportation.
This article first appeared on www.thechronicle.com.au
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