TRACKING WELL: Warwick has proven a good home for freight giant Watco, but the diversion of the Inland Rail through the Rose City would make it significantly better.
TRACKING WELL: Warwick has proven a good home for freight giant Watco, but the diversion of the Inland Rail through the Rose City would make it significantly better.

Pennisi pushes for Inland Rail route through Warwick

THE $10 billion inland rail project could deliver significant economic benefits to the Southern Downs should the proposed Border to Gowrie route be changed, according to Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi.

The project was identified as a major development affecting the region during a council portfolio meeting on June 26, when the Mayor was briefed on the project and its current status.

An independent panel is assessing flood modelling after farmers on the Condamine flood plain between Millmerran and Brookstead claimed the current path would exacerbate adverse weather events.

 

 

Landholders near Cecil Plains are frustrated by the government's Inland Rail route review, saying the land along the 'forestry route' is not suitable for the infrastructure project.
Landholders near Cecil Plains are frustrated by the government's Inland Rail route review, saying the land along the 'forestry route' is not suitable for the infrastructure project.

 

 

If the route was to divert through Warwick, it would necessitate a more frequent maintenance schedule and the installation of a narrow gauge railway line, making operations easier for international freight company Watco.

Watco established its Queensland operations in Warwick earlier this year, and construction is currently on track for a full fleet of 13 locomotives and about 150 grain wagons.

Watco maintenance supervisor Shane Kraschnefski said the project would allow the company to consider doing other goods services and tap into the market for Queensland freight.

"A lot of the line out there is in a state of disrepair and Queensland Rail doesn't have a replacement for it if anything goes wrong," Mr Kraschnefski said.

"If a line was put down through Warwick … it would be something we could be first users on.

"There's a market here for new freight to move up."

Cr Pennisi said he had no idea what the outcome would be, but said he would be "speaking up for the Southern Downs".

"We have to make sure we do whatever we can to advocate on (Watco's) behalf to make sure they stay viable and stay in this town," he said.

"I don't want to lose the rail line capacity we have here, if they are no longer maintained there will be big implications for us."

Mr Kraschnefski said Watco remained confident in Warwick as the base for its future operations, regardless of the outcome of the Inland Rail discussions.

A decision is expected sooner rather than later, as the Federal Government seeks to slash its approval time in half in an effort to create jobs and boost the post-COVID economy.



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