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THE GROUNDSWELL of community concern over the Inland Rail alignment is growing — and here’s the proof.
Close to a month ago the Southern Star met Algester’s Mallory Wuthrich and his family in this very spot talking about the potential impact of the amount of trains that would go through Algester, Acacia Ridge and Parkinson, as well as suburbs in Logan, because of this project.
Fast-forward to now and more than 25 people turned up to have their concerns heard.
And their message is clear … they want the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge section of the rail line to be declared a Coordinated Project, forcing authorities to conduct an full Environmental Impact Statement.
Algester residents Mallory Wuthrich and Mei-Ya Lin with their children Joshua, 5, and Madeleine, 2 at Col Bennett Park under the existing train track. Photo: Kristy MuirThe Queensland Coordinator-General Barry Broe has the power to declare this section of the Inland Rail as a Coordinated Project but at this stage the Australian Rail Track Corporation has not been in touch with him.
However, the ARTC has contacted him about four sections of the 1700km stretch of rail which will run from Melbourne to Brisbane.
About 12 coal trains a day will pass Algester, Parkinson and Acacia Ridge homes as part of the Inland Rail realignment. Photo: AAP/Dan Himbrechts“As awareness about the details of the scope of the project emerge, people are starting to ask why the government would not want to employ the highest level of due diligence to considering the viability and safety of this route, given it impacts more than 50,000 residents,” Mr Wuthrich, a father-of-two, said.
Acacia Ridge and Algester residents came together to take a stand against the inland rail project. Photo: Kristy Muir“If the State Government wants to represent its constituents concerns it would request the Coordinator General declare the route a coordinated project, which would require the ARTC to submit to the rigours of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).”
“An EIS would legally compel the ARTC to consult and engage with the community in a meaningful manner and would give the community the direct opportunity to have a say on the terms of reference for the EIS.
Brisbane's Acacia Ridge rail freight terminal. Photo: John Hoyle/Railway Digest magazine.“The residents of communities to be impacted by the proposed Kagaru-Acacia Ridge section of the Inland Rail are frustrated by the lack of meaningful State Government action on this issue.
“Various State Government Ministers have publicly stated they support the local communities on this issue, and have demanded the ARTC set up consultative committees in these communities. However these are ineffective measures that do nothing to hold the ARTC to account, but allow the politicians to sound appropriately “concerned” without actually doing anything.
Member for Algester Leeanne Enoch Member for Logan Linus Power and Member for Jordan, Charis Mullen want a community consultative committee for the Inland Rail project for the Algester/Logan/Jordan electorate area, as is the case in other parts of Queensland.“People should call, write or email their local State Member, or Cameron Dick MP in his role as Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning and ask them why our community’s health and safety concerns aren’t worth more than the corporate interests of the ARTC or the Port of Brisbane? Demand they grant an EIS.”
An ARTC spokeswoman said up to 40 freight trains per week use the existing line but by 2040 this would be the number of trains travelling the route daily.
Algester residents Mallory Wuthrich and Mei-Ya Lin with their children Joshua, 5, and Madeleine, 2 at Col Bennett Park under the existing train track. To the left of them are fellow Algester and Acacia Ridge residents. Photo: Kristy Muir“Train numbers will rise gradually when Inland Rail commences operations, which is expected in 2025, to an expected peak number of 45 train movements per day by 2040,” she said.
“While market demand will determine future freight requirements, it is estimated there will be an average of 12 trains a day carrying coal in 2039-40. We are looking to work with potential customers (coal and others) going forward to update the forecast future freight demand.”
The ARTC said: as this section of the Inland Rail was already within an existing rail corridor already operated by ARTC, the Queensland Government required that an Environmental Assessment Report be prepared rather than a formal Environmental lmpact Statement (EIS).
An Inland Rail picture taken from the Australian Rail Track Corporation's website.“The Environmental Assessment Report will provide significant information on the project, its impacts, and any mitigation measures that may be required. It will be provided for public feedback, and ARTC may consider establishing a Community Consultative Committee in this project section,” she said.
Acacia Ridge resident Clare Wang, 39, said the rail line was “right next to the back fence”.
“I feel angry about not being informed about the project and the government let it process without public inquiry,” Miss Wang said.
“I am very concerned for my health and for the public. I have a nine-year-old boy and a mum who live with me.
A truck heads into the Acacia Ridge terminal. Photo: Philip Norrish“We’re worried about the health impact this has on us.
“I definitely think that the government should forbid coal from transporting on (the) inland rail.”
Long-time Algester resident Kevin Gray told the Southern Star for the past 39 years he had lived in the same house, only 94m from the existing railway line.
“My family grew up here, went to the local school and enjoyed what the area had to offer,” he said.
“We knew the railway line was there and was aware of the number of trains passing each day. It was minimal and was well-tolerated.
“I, as well as a lot of the community was not aware of the impact the inland rail could have on our lives.
ARTC workers walk a rail line. Photo: (AAP Image/Russell Millard)“Most of the residence in this highly-populated area knew of the project, but no details were provided.
“We didn`t even know that it was going along the existing interstate line.
“ … If the inland rail goes ahead along the existing track, coal trains should be excluded for health reasons. Veneering only covers the top section, no protection for sides and floor or load movements. It has been proven in the past that these trains, with all best intentions, does not prevent coal dust from finding its way out, up to 2kms away from the line.
Acacia Ridge and Algester residents came together to take a stand against the inland rail project. Photo: Kristy Muir“Residents along the existing track feel very angry about this project just trying to be pushed through without any studies or consultation. As taxpaying people, looks as if we do not have any say or opinions at all. Do we have to prove that we have rights.”
A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesman said: “The Coordinator General has not been approached by the ARTC to declare the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge section of the proposed Inland Rail project as a Coordinated Project.
Coordinator-General Barry Broe during Parliamentary estimates hearings. Picture: Jono Searle“TMR understands communities along the K2AB alignment have raised concerns about the possible increase in freight train numbers and their associated impacts.
“TMR is working with ARTC to ensure they meet stringent environmental and social obligations for proposed works and future operations along that route.”
Community Consultative Committees (CCCs) are the responsibility of the Australian Government and the ARTC. Requests for a CCC or further consultation for the K2AB alignment should be directed to the ARTC.
The ARTC said: “We are early in this process with 12-18 months of community consultation, engineering and environmental investigations to be completed before construction commences.”
About 12 coal trains a day will pass Algester, Parkinson and Acacia Ridge homes as part of the Inland Rail realignment. Photo: AAP/Dan HimbrechtsThe ARTC spokeswoman said it held community information sessions in 2017 with more than 300 people attending and would hold more meetings as the project progressed.
“We have already established regular communications with key stakeholder groups, including local community groups, elected representatives and interested residents,” she said.
“We encourage people to contact us directly with their questions and feedback on 1800 732 761 or on InlandRailQld@artc.com.au”
Coordinator-General Barry Broe said: “The proponent ARTC has not applied for a coordinated project declaration.
“The Coordinator-General has not received any application.”
RAIL GROUP ACTION OVER INLAND PLANTHE Inland Rail Action Group is demanding an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be done on the inland rail route from Kagaru to Acacia Ridge.
Suzanne ‘Suz’ Corbett, head of the action group, which has more than 600 members, said up to 50,000 residents lived within a few kilometres of the track from Kagaru to Acacia Ridge.
She said there were growing fears about the environmental impact from scores of extra freight and coal trains projected on the track each week from as early as 2024.
Stan and Suz Corbett of Forestdale never back away from a fight — especially when it comes to the safety of the community. Picture: Peter Cronin“IRAG demand an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) done on the route from Kagaru to Acacia Ridge,” Mrs Corbett said.
She said IRAG was not opposed to the Inland Rail concept but the final destination of the 1700km route, which would link Melbourne and Brisbane via regional VIC, NSW and QLD.
“IRAG would like the government decision makers to request ARTC to investigate sending the trains to Gladstone,” she said.
“Logistically and financially Gladstone has many positives.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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