Two key sections of the proposed 1710km freight route near Toowoomba have been declared coordinated projects by the state’s independent Coordinator-General.

The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail $10 billion Programme has attained a rails run with the Coordinator-General to help progress a 73km stretch from Toowoomba to Grandchester.

State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said “The Coordinator-General can now efficiently coordinate the environmental assessment process for the 26km, $1.35 billion Gowrie to Helidon and the 47km, $1 billion Helidon to Calvert sections,” Dr Lynham said.

“These two adjoining dual-gauge sections could each generate 1800 jobs during their four-year construction phase starting in 2020 and 700 jobs for the 50 years of forecast operation for the entire program.”

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is delivering the ten year freight programme, which will carry 50 intermodal round trips between Melbourne and Brisbane each week by 2050. It has identified a broad corridor but is yet to finalise alignments.      

The project is in 13 sections over a route that runs through regional Victoria and central-west New South Wales. It crosses the border into Queensland near Yelarbon and will be delivered in five sections to Acacia Ridge.

Dr Lynham said inland rail was forecast to reduce rail freight times from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney by six hours, as well as reducing the freight task’s carbon footprint by 750,000 tonnes per year.

“This project could be a real boon to Queensland industry, for both growers and manufacturers,” Dr Lynham said.

“However both of these sections will require rigorous planning and engineering to address the potential impacts of flooding in the region.”

Dr Lynham said the Coordinator-General would release draft terms of reference for environmental impact statements in May.

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