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The push for an Inland Rail extension to the Port of Gladstone has gained momentum with a Senate Inquiry calling for a thorough investigation into the option.

The development was hailed as a victory for Central Queensland by Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett, saying the extension would create thousands of jobs in the region and billions of dollars worth of investment.

The Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee on Wednesday night delivered its report on the key infrastructure project under the damning title ‘derailed from the start’.

It highlighted the major cost blow-outs for the project, from an original estimated bill of $4.7 billion to current predictions that it will exceed $20 billion, and the fact the freight line’s intermodal terminal locations in Brisbane are yet to be determined.

Construction is already underway on the project, which aims to connect Melbourne and Brisbane with a rail link providing a 24-hour end-to-end journey time.

Cr Burnett said the council had been calling for the Inland Rail project to be extended to the Port of Gladstone for many years.

“What we saw on Wednesday night was the Senate Inquiry recommending that the 2015 business case be reviewed to include the extension to the Port of Gladstone and also that the Federal Government should fund that thorough review into the connection of the Inland rail to the Port of Gladstone. It’s great news,” he said.

Cr Burnett said this was not just good news for Gladstone, but all regional communities from Toowoomba to Miles and into the Banana Shire.

Gladstone Engineering Alliance general manager Chantale Lane said an extension to the Port of in Gladstone would create immense opportunities for future industrial development in Central Queensland.

“The Gladstone Port is the most developable port in the southern hemisphere, with huge scope for growth,” she said.

“Linking this port directly via rail to southern markets opens up enormous potential for increased export and import, which in turn would create additional jobs and act as the catalyst for the development of other industries, not just in Gladstone, but also along the rail route through Central Queensland.

“The physical construction of the missing link section near Banana and the upgrade of the existing rail line between Toowoomba and Gladstone would also create additional jobs and increased economic activity in these communities.”

The Central Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (CQROC) has argued that additional benefits of a Gladstone alignment would include reducing the number of coal trains using the Brisbane rail network, a
cost saving on building Inland Rail from Toowoomba to Brisbane, and that the Port of Gladstone was already capable of increasing its intake of coal

In the Gladstone Regional Council’s submissions to the committee, Cr Burnett argued that 47 per cent of the Inland Rail cost covered only 10 per cent of the distance, being Toowoomba to Brisbane, with no estimates available from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane.

“God only knows how much that would cost. The extension to Gladstone can be done for $3.8 billion
cheaper, three years earlier—on the basis that the Brisbane link ever gets built—and would open up regional development in Queensland.”

Call to assess Gladstone link in Inland Rail rethink