Melbourne to Brisbane Rail Plan on Track

A media conference of the Port of Brisbane on 29 November marked the launch of a $750,000 pre-feasibility study into the first stage of the proposed $2 billion Melbourne to Darwin railway expressway Project.

The first stage - the Southern Inland Expressway from Melbourne to Brisbane - will open up access to and from the Port of Brisbane for regional and interstate areas by offering an alternative to a route travelled by 2,500 trucks a day.

On completion of this stage, trains would travel from Melbourne to Brisbane on standard gauge track without going through the major traffic bottleneck of Sydney.

A partnership has been formed between the Corporation, Australian Transport & Energy Corridor Ltd

(ATEC), Federal Government, Queensland Rail, New South Rails Access Corporation and Australian Rail Track Corporation to fund and manage the pre- feasibility study. Federal Member for Longman Mal Brough will be chairing the project's steering committee.

ATEC chairman Everald Compton said in the 112 year history of this project, this was the first time four governments - Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Federal - had agreed to cooperate in its development.

"Such a change could mean a dramatic new era for the transport industry in Australia, with rail taking over from the road as the most used means of long distance transport," he said.

It is estimated the Expressway will carry up to 75 per cent of the freight traffic between Brisbane and Melbourne, and slash millions of dollars annually in road maintenance costs.

The proposed 1,700 kilometre railway line for this first stage of the Australian Inland Rail Expressway has been drawn from Melbourne through Shepparton, Narrandera, Parkes, Dubbo, Narrabri, Moree, Goondiwindi and Toowoomba.

Corporation Chief Executive Officer Graham Mulligan said: "Expressions of interest have been invited from 12 Australian and international consultancies to conduct the pre-feasibility study.

"A vital part of this stage is assessing Port of Brisbane access options so we can ensure clients of the port are well served.

"In December three consultancies will be chosen to submit detailed tenders. By Christmas the successful tenderer will be chosen and by July 2000 the study is scheduled for completion."

The study will assess the most financially viable route for the proposed line and other options including passing through Albury and Wagga Wagga instead of Shepparton and Narrendera, or going via Warwick instead of Toowoomba.

POBC Portrait November/December 1999 page 5


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