The Federal Government has fast tracked an investigation into the viability of the Lockyer Valley Inland Rail connection.
It is one of four projects selected to be fast tracked.
The Government has committed $44 million to the Inland Rail II Program to assess the cost and benefits of various additional connections to the national freight rail network including investigating ways to build industry and supply chain resilience and improve market access for farmers and manufacturers through enhanced connection to Inland Rail..
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the Lockyer Valley is traditionally one of Australia’s strongest horticulture producing regions.
“The agricultural output of the Lockyer Valley typically exceeds $285 million per year, with the region producing roughly 20 per cent of the total vegetable production in Queensland and around five per cent of Australia’s total vegetable production,” Mr McCormack said.
“Like so many others, farmers and producers in the Lockyer are battling the enduring impacts of fire and drought and they need to know they have access to a reliable, interconnected, national freight network that will deliver their produce to markets when and where it is needed.
“Inland Rail has always been about far more than building a rail line – it’s about investing in our regions and connecting Australians through fast, reliable freight that delivers the food we eat, the furniture in our homes and the clothes we wear,” Mr McCormack said.
Under the II Program, strategic business cases will identify opportunities to support more productive rail-based supply chains at regional centres and help build capacity on key country rail lines.
Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann, said the Government continued to implement its plans to build a stronger economy and create more jobs and was very happy that the Lockyer Valley component under the Infrastructure Investment Program would be fast tracked.
“Better freight connectivity and efficiency helps drive stronger economic growth and will maximise the returns for our national productivity which we know Inland Rail will deliver,” Mr Cormann said.
“Transport costs are a significant overhead for Australian businesses which inevitably are then passed on to consumers. By maximising the community and business connections to Inland Rail, our investments to improve the interface with existing infrastructure ensures more people can enjoy high quality competitively priced and locally grown produce.”
Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communities and Local Government, Mark Coulton, said the fast tracked program reflects the commitment of The Nationals in Government to provide opportunities for regional communities.
“We want to help regions play to their strengths by removing the barriers to growth and by investing in productivity enhancements that build resilient local economies,” Mr Coulton said.
“Enhancing supply chain efficiencies means more money stays in the pockets of local producers, building more resilient communities and industries. Inland Rail provides the opportunities for cost savings, with the fast and reliable freight transport option placing our products on supermarket shelves across Australia and beyond our shores.
“We want to build the infrastructure – infrastructure such as Inland Rail – that can make a real difference for regional and rural Australians.”