Inland Rail: Get it to Gowrie

In Toowoomba - Australia’s second largest inland city, only behind Canberra - Inland Rail has been topical for the last decade. The Inland Rail project, which aims to connect Melbourne and Brisbane by freight railway, has been delayed by an independent review that recommended a staged delivery model. The only confirmed stage is the North-West Connection at Parkes in New South Wales, which will allow double stacked trains to move from Melbourne to Western Australia. The rest of the line into Queensland remains uncertain, leaving regional communities and businesses frustrated.

A Toowoomba Region delegation led by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) and Mayor Geoff McDonald made the trip Canberra last week, and welcomed the opportunity to brief Infrastructure and Trasport Minister Catherine King and Regional Development Minister Kristy McBain on the importance of getting Inland Rail into Queensland, with the Border to Gowrie (Toowoomba) section. The surety of Inland Rail would boost the economic development of the region, which is a significant agriculture and energy producer.

 “Regional Queensland needs confidence that Inland Rail will arrive. Confidence to keep working towards being rail ready and confidence to attract new investment to regional economies,” says April Cavanagh, TSBE CEO.

“Getting Inland Rail to Queensland, means more private sector investment, in fact based on publicly accessible data around 90 percent of planned private sector investment related to Inland Rail occurs within Queensland,” says Ms Cavanagh.

Minister King has said that the Inland Rail will get to Brisbane, but timelines or further details have not been advised. However, with the Environmental Impact Assessment Study to get the line to Queensland not expected to be completed until at least mid-2025, it is industry and organisations such as TSBE that must continue to advocate to get it to Gowrie – a significant milestone worthy of prioritisation.  

Mayor Geoff McDonald said it was pleasing that the Federal Government has committed to building Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane. 

“The challenge for the investment community is the project's lack of urgency. The environmental impact statement continues to be delayed, meaning construction time frames extend into the distant future,” says Mayor McDonald.

Our region already represents a major freight thoroughfare. The Warrego Highway alone carries up to 6,000 heavy vehicles per day, highlighting the strategic importance of the project. We can’t continue to rely on one mode of transportation.

Once Inland Rail reaches Gowrie, which is already linked to the Brisbane Port via the existing Queensland Rail network and the $1.6billion Toowoomba Bypass, the route from Melbourne to Brisbane is technically achieved. 

Substantial private investment has been made at the InterlinkSQ intermodal terminal at Gowrie, and more is set to go into the intermodal facility at Wellcamp Business Park and Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, and FKG Group, through their Toowoomba Technology Park (TTP) site are confirming significant national and international investment interest in our region pending Inland Rail.

John Dornbusch, Chairman of InterlinkSQ says, “On the ground we are ready to go - we have businesses lined up who are ready to invest and ramp up regional industry and employment - we just need the confidence and commitment from the Federal Government that this vital enabling infrastructure is full steam ahead for the Toowoomba Region and Queensland.”

Let’s get it to Gowrie – a significant milestone worthy of prioritisation.