INLAND: Route against route, town against town

The federal government has awarded the first contracts on the inland rail project as Toowoomba looks to become a logistics hub.  Photo Contributed
The federal government has awarded the first contracts on the inland rail project as Toowoomba looks to become a logistics hub. Photo Contributed Contributed

POLITICAL leaders in Warwick and Toowoomba have publicly battled over which town should receive the Inland Rail Route.

While Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said every possible route needed to be properly and openly analysed before a decision was set in stone, Toowoomba councillors were saying the project should "get on with it”.

Toowoomba South MP David Janetzki said every option needed to be on the table, but he just wanted the project up and running as soon as possible.

He echoed concerns raised earlier by $235 million Toowoomba rail hub project developer Interlink SQ that ongoing debate over the route could imperil the project, which many agree is vital for the economy.

Mr Janetzki said he was sick of talking about it.

"The more we talk about it, the more likely that funding will be diverted elsewhere,” he said.

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio said it was "time to get on with the project”.

In July, he called for an end to speculation about the Inland Rail route, saying the Toowoomba council backed the proposed route.

"The most recent alignment study, which was undertaken in 2010, considered an exhaustive range of alternatives to develop the optimum alignment and made clear recommendations about the most commercially viable, cost-effective and environmentally sound route,” Cr Antonio said.

"We believe the proposed route, which has been developed after very careful analysis, is the right fit for this nation-building project.”

A spokeswoman for the Millmerran Commerce and Progress said the organisation preferred the Millmerran route because of the economic benefits it would bring to the region.

It is yet to formally discuss the newly released report.

Cr Dobie said she hoped to work with Toowoomba's council in the planning process, but believed ultimately a project like the Inland Rail would better bolster remoter, growing regions such as the Southern Downs.

"I believe rail is the future and as our regions expands we will need those rail line,” she said.

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