20 June 2015
A NEW rail line bypassing the city via Stuart could be built as part of the Abbott Government’s plan for northern Australia.
Building the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC) and improving water infrastructure on the Burdekin River will be among a list of priorities the region will submit to the Government.
The Government has committed to a pre-feasibility study into expanding the Townsville-Mount Isa rail line as part of the $6 billion in funding outlined in the Northern Australia White Paper this week.
Townsville Enterprise chief executive Patricia O’Callaghan said she would be pushing for the Government to undertake a business case into the TEARC, which would bypass the city by branching off at Cluden and continuing alongside the Port Access Rd.
“The Townsville-Mount Isa rail line is a very important part of ensuring the Port of Townsville can take the products in the northwest minerals province … so it is important to also undertake a business case into TEARC,” she said.
The White Paper also committed to undertake a study into building a rail line from Mount Isa to Tennant Creek, which could mean the resources and produce in northwest Queensland would be connected by rail to the Darwin port.
Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady said a rail line to the Northern Territory would make upgrading the Townsville-Mount Isa rail line even more pressing to ensure Townsville did not lose any trade.
“The people of Townsville wouldn’t be too happy if a rail line was being built to take product away from Townsville,” he said.
The 2012 Mount Isa Line Rail Infrastructure Master Plan stated entry to Port of Townsville was a major bottleneck affecting capacity on the line.
Port of Townsville chief executive Ranee Crosby said government money was needed to submit a business case, which the private sector could then use to tap into the $5 billion concessional loan facility to build the rail extension.
She was disappointed to not see specific commitments to water infrastructure in the Burdekin and Flinders rivers.
“We, as a region, should be getting the things we want to get out of it – in the same way other regions are getting commitments towards their projects,” she said.
Courtesy of the Townsville Bulletin