The federal government has announced a review into Australia’s largest rail construction program, the $14.5 billion Inland Rail project, which aims to link Melbourne and Brisbane via a 1,700-kilometre-long corridor running through regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The review will be headed up by Dr Kerry Schott, an experienced executive who has worked in both the private and public sectors.
The announcement of the review came as the Government released an independent report into the potential for the rail line to influence flood behaviour along its route within Queensland. The report broadly found that the project has taken flooding considerations into account.
Nonetheless, the federal government says that former Coalition government “left Inland Rail in a mess”.
“We are delivering on our election commitment to undertake an independent review to get this nationally important project making progress again without further delays and with improved community consultation,” said the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King.
“The review will give the Government a clear-eyed view on what the problems are and the way forward.”
Minister King added that “Dr Schott is a highly respected and trusted leader” who will “conduct a thorough and independent review of Inland Rail and make recommendations to ensure this nationally significant project is successfully delivered.”
The review, which is expected to be completed by early 2023, will:
- consider the process for selecting the Inland Rail route, including stakeholder consultation, and assess the project’s scope, schedule and cost.
- assess options for new Inland Rail intermodal terminals to be built in Melbourne and Brisbane, which would improve rail links to the cities’ ports.
- have regard to existing studies, such as the Toowoomba to Gladstone Inland Rail Extension Business Case.
In Queensland, the mayor of the City of Logan, Darren Power, has welcomed the review but has said the fight is not over to safeguard concerns regarding the route chosen for the rail line, which currently is due to closely skirt the western fringe of the City along a section known as Kagaru and Acacia Ridge to Bromelton (K2ARB).
“We have been vocal about the serious impacts of the K2ARB section of the project for many years now,” Cr Power said.
“Residents did not get an opportunity to have their say on the route or offer alternatives. It is the most densely populated section of the project in Queensland and those residents will bear the brunt of the noise, vibration and air quality issues.”
It is expected that 40,000 people will live within one kilometre of the rail corridor over the next twenty years.
“It is not good enough that our residents have been consistently ignored by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and we look forward to hearing what the review has to say when the findings come back early next year,” Cr Power said.
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