$300m rail project lays track
THE floods may have forced a redesign of the Surat Basin rail project, but plans are full steam ahead after an American company invested $300 million.
Everald Compton, from infrastructure company ATEC, said his company now had the funds to begin building the rail line next year.
The estimated $1 billion railway project is a 210km rail corridor linking Wandoan to Banana completing the transport link between Toowoomba and Gladstone.
The railway is crucial for the transportation of millions of tonnes of coal from the Surat Basin to the proposed Wiggins Inland Coal Export Terminal at the Port of Gladstone and it would lessen the amount of coal trucked on roads.
Its three equity partners are QR National, Xstrata Coal and ATEC.
Mr Compton said the investment announcement was big news for Toowoomba which he said would act as a major freight hub once the project was completed.
He said the investors, US-based Energy and Minerals Group, had investigated the project for 12 months.
“They couldn’t believe the Surat Basin wasn’t connected by railway to port,” Mr Compton said.
“This is good news all around for Toowoomba, the Surat Basin and the Darling Downs.”
Engineers have had to adjust designs to some sections of the rail corridor that were greatly affected by recent flooding.
Mr Compton said the railway was initially designed for a one-in-100-year event.
“But the recent flood was more than that.
“What you’ve got to do is build the bridges a lot further back from the river banks.”
Mr Compton is also campaigning for a rail link from Moree to Toowoomba which would effectively link Toowoomba and Melbourne.
“That line would be about two or three years behind the Surat Basin railway,” he said.
The Moree to Toowoomba line would end at ATEC’s planned freight centre at Charlton.