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The Queensland government will pour $17 million into upgrading railway tunnels to increase freight capacity between the Darling Downs and the Port of Brisbane.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson said 11 tunnels through the Toowoomba Range and Lockyer Valley would be expanded to allow larger hi cube freight containers to pass through.
Darling Downs farmers and the agricultural industry are expected to reap the benefits of the upgrades.
"The amount of grain and cotton through the Port of Brisbane increased by 50 per cent last year," Mr Emerson said.
"These two projects will mean more farmers can get crops off the road and on to rail and start to address the transportation needs of farmers across south west Queensland well into the future."
Mr Emerson said floors would be lowered in the 11 tunnels – nine of which are heritage listed – from the beginning of 2014.
"This will be a challenging engineering task because the tunnels along the western and south western rail corridors must retain their historic qualities," he said.
Preliminary geotechnical work is already underway.
Mr Emerson said the use of hi cube containers had grown significantly in recent years, replacing the smaller, standard containers.
"If we are going to meet our future growth in freight we need to make sensible decisions now to improve the capacity on our train network," he said.
"We have already taken steps to build two additional passing loops on the range to allow more services for cotton and grain and this will now allow even more freight capacity."
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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