Coalition focuses on finalising Inland Rail plans
ABOUT $300 million will be poured into getting the long-awaited Inland Rail project connecting Brisbane to Melbourne via Toowoomba off the ground if the Coalition wins the Federal Election.
Nationals' leader and Shadow Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss will announce on Wednesday his party's focus on finalising the rail line plans and buying properties along the rail corridor.
Properties to be initially targeted fall between Rosewood, near Ipswich, and Kagaru, near Jimboomba, which is on the existing national rail network.
A completed inland rail line would eventually link the Port of Brisbane to Melbourne via the Darling Downs and would separate freight and passenger train lines near Ipswich.
The Coalition predicts the $4.7 billion project will foster coal and agriculture freight movements from the Surat Basin.
Navigating the rail development through the Great Dividing Range is expected to be the most costly part of the project.
Mr Truss said the inland rail project would ensure the transport network was prepared to meet Australia's growing freight movement over the next 50 years.
"Under our plans, the standard gauge rail line that presently runs from Melbourne to Illabo (near Cootamundra) will finish its 1800-km journey at the Port of Brisbane," he said.
The Coalition has flagged in the past focusing on freight networks over urban rail projects, like the Cross River Rail in Brisbane.
A Queensland Government transport strategy released earlier this year estimated freight movements in the state would grow by 70% over the next decade.
Queensland Transport Minister Scott Emerson said to cater for the mounting freight volumes, freight services needed to be taken off passenger lines in Ipswich and Brisbane's suburbs.
Meanwhile, the Labor Government had committed $300 million over the forward estimates to planning work and land resumptions for the inland rail project.
Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued a statement on Tuesday committing to prioritise the construction plans.