The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has spoken out against suggestions of route changes along the length of the Inland Rail to incorporate passenger rail, noting that the planned alignment of the Inland Rail project must be maintained to give certainty to industry and ensure the travel times forecast in the business case can be realised.
“The Inland Rail Route was surveyed and planned seven years ago, in 2010,” said Michael Kilgariff, Managing Director, ALC. “The business case for Inland Rail was developed based on that route.
“Moreover, other organisations have made investment decisions about locating new freight infrastructure based upon that route. This includes projects such as InterLinkSQ’s intermodal facility, which is already under construction near Toowoomba.
“To alter the planned route now would retrospectively penalise those investors, undermine the business case and risk yet more delay to a project that has already been decades in development.”
Kilgariff added that more effective long-term planning is critical for improving the efficiency of Australia’s supply chains and freight networks.
“It’s important to remember that Inland Rail is about establishing a port-to-port freight rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane, with a journey time of less than 24 hours – some 10 hours faster than the current rail route through Sydney,” he said.
“We can’t afford to lose sight of that unambiguous objective by beginning to debate passenger rail links to regional airports. Frankly, that is not what Inland Rail is about.”
Such discussion, he added, would cause further delays to a project that has been planned for decades.
“The last thing our industry and the national economy can afford is further delay to the Inland Rail project because of speculative discussions about altering the route or incorporating passenger services,” he said.
“Such delays will do nothing to deliver the clear economic benefits of Inland Rail, and will simply undermine investor and industry confidence.”