Council, ARTC at odds over passenger rail plans for Lockyer
THE PROPOSED Inland Rail track will be capable of carrying passenger rail, but train stations won’t be part of the plans.
In a community consultative meeting on Tuesday night, Inland Rail senior project manager Max Nichols said passenger trains wanting to use the corridor would have to meet the track specifications.
“We are passenger capable (but) we aren’t there to build train stations, we don’t have allowance to build train stations,” Mr Nichols said.
Mr Nichols said Queensland Rail and the Department of Transport and Main Roads would need to use the existing network and build links to the Inland Rail network.
“There would need to be various connections where trains can come on and off,” he said.
The Inland Rail design will allow the Westlander, which services Brisbane to Charleville, to operate on the network.
But the agreement with the state means passenger trains wanting to use the Inland Rail network would need to be diesel operated and meet the rail specifications.
“Passenger trains would need to meet the (Toowoomba) tunnel specs rather than the tunnel meeting non-specified passenger trains,” Mr Nichols said.
In February last year, Lockyer Valley Regional Council said it would be lobbying for passenger rail through the region, using the Inland Rail network.
A $15 million business case was funded during the 2018 budget to assess the possibility of passenger rail servicing Ipswich, the Lockyer Valley and Toowoomba regions.
LVRC’s senior Adviser for advocacy Stephen Hart said council were trying to minimise the impacts but look for some benefits with the project.
“There will be areas of the existing network that won’t be used for freight,” he said.
“Already, there’s effectively what could be a passenger rail loop into Laidley.
“And similarly, at Grantham and Helidon there’s existing loops that will go into the townships, but the freight railway heads to the north.”
Mr Hart said the council did not want a bullet train, it would be “ridiculously expensive” but they wanted a passenger rail service.
“At the moment, we’ve got virtually nothing,” he said.
“We want to make sure Inland Rail and ARTC don’t cut off any future options.”