Freight Rail, Major Projects & Infrastructure

Gladstone option proposed for Inland Rail

Figures in Central Queensland believe Gladstone can play a role in getting Inland Rail freight onto ships.

A NEW report has made the case for Inland Rail to Gladstone and using the central Queensland centre as the key port.

This is being promoted as an alternative to the Brisbane option, with a solution yet to be established as to how best to get freight from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane.

Gladstone City Council, with other nearby councils, asked deputy chairman of RDA for Central and Western Queensland John Abbott to prepare a submission to the federal government to reconsider the Port of Gladstone as Queensland’s Inland Rail terminal point.

Mr Abbott asked consultants AEC Group to research the destination’s viability.

Earlier this this year, AEC Group found that “this alternative route can reduce the cost of Inland Rail to the Australian Rail Track Corporation [and the federal government] by $4.8 billion”.

Gladstone is 500km north of Brisbane.

In a statement to the Senate, Mr Abbott noted four advantages of a Gladstone link:

  • It would facilitate the establishment of a fourth major intermodal container port on the east coast of Australia;
  • It could deliver the objectives of Inland rail with a net reduction in capital expenditure of up to $4 billion, with a shorter timeline and a lower risk profile, and is virtually shovel ready now; 
  • Economic analysis shows that it has substantially improved project economics, with the Nett Present Value (NPV) improvement of $2.87 billion, and a BCR improvement of 0.37.  
  • Delivers the potential for economic growth of up to $10 Billion in Central and Western Queensland which would not otherwise occur, and which cannot be claimed by the link to the Port of Brisbane.

It has been reported that the Gladstone model is closer to original concepts proposed back in the 1990s.

An earlier report by a similarly-named group called AECOM back in 2017 also looked at the Gladstone option, including whether to take a coastal route from Acacia Ridge to the North Coast Line, or to take an inland route via Wandoan and Banana along the Surat Basin.

AECOM concluded the inland route would be more financially viable, avoiding areas of dense population and helping unlock coal reserves in the Surat Basin.

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