The ARTC has halted works on the Inland Rail project, to allow further investigation into alternative routes.
The ARTC has halted works on the Inland Rail project, to allow further investigation into alternative routes. Contributed

Inland Rail project stopped in its tracks

THE region's politicians have welcomed a move to stop works on the Inland Rail project until all the routes are thoroughly considered, putting the Warwick option back on the table.

Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg said he was pleased to receive the news at a meeting with fellow state MPs yesterday.

"All work has been put on hold until they get general agreement on three potential corridors, which includes the one just west of Warwick," he said.

"This is going to be done in conjunction with a properly constructed community reference group, made up of interested landholders and business owners."

The Australian Rail Track Corporation will now evaluate several route options, including those through Warwick and Karara and Leyburn.

The project has caused much contention among stakeholders, with suggestions authorities were overlooking routes through the Southern Downs.

Mr Springborg said he did not have a preferred route but wanted to be satisfied all were thoroughly investigated before a final decision was made.

"This way, people will have confidence they aren't going to rush it," he said.

"They will know that this has been done properly, they will be able to see the evidence and ask all the questions.

"That is what we haven't had today - Warwick has not been properly considered."

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie echoed Mr Springborg sentiments and said the Southern Downs had much to lose if it wasn't included in the project.

"The preference I believe for us, is to provide that connection via Wellcamp Airport that is essential for our region," she said.

"My biggest concern if it doesn't come through our region - and I'm talking 20 or 30 years down the track - is we will lose that south-west rail link.

"The future, I believe, is in automated transport, in both trains and motor vehicles, and right now our population is 21-25% of people over 65.

"Wouldn't it be great to have a passenger train that goes from Warwick to Toowoomba?"

Cr Dobie said the rail link was also a vital asset for local producers.

The region's mayor also expressed her ongoing concern about the Federal Government's willingness to spend taxpayers' money on infrastructure when there was a suitable option already in place.

It is not known how long this consultation period would last but Mr Springborg said it was not something to be rushed.

"I have a growing level of encouragement that we are going to get an open, proper and objective assessment," he said.

"If it has been properly considered and the evidence says it doesn't stack up, we can live with it.

"People will accept this if they have confidence in the process and the trust it has been done properly and thoroughly."